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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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Rebellion Recruiting – In-Season Recruiting Communication

With everyone’s season about to start, I wanted to share some information with all of our readers about how the college recruiting process works while you and the college coaches are both in-season. Last week I hopped on the Baseball Rebellion Podcast with JK and Eric to talk a little recruiting and share our knowledge on camps, showcases and recruiting communication. If you haven’t already, you can listen to last week’s podcast by clicking here.  To give a little background, out of college I was a high school coach at a top program in the Charlotte-area, and then following that, on East Carolina University’s Baseball staff for the past two years.

This article is designed to help anyone who plans on trying to play college baseball or softball and not just people who are currently being recruited. Whether you are 12 or 17, I believe that the information in this article will help you know and better understand how the recruiting process works during the season. As I have stated every time I talk about recruiting, whether it be in articles on the podcast, I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT YOU ARE REALISTIC WITH WHAT YOUR ABILITY LEVEL IS AND WHAT SCHOOLS FIT INTO YOUR LEVEL. You must self-evaluate yourself and have a clear, realistic understanding of where you are as a player. Here are the best ways to do so:

  • Look at other players your age who are being recruited and find out what schools are recruiting them and ask yourself how you stack up against those players
  • Get an outside (not your parents) opinion to compare you and other players to see where you currently stand. If your high school coach, travel team coach, or private instructor has coached recruited players in the past, ask them how your ability compares to players that have gone to play at the next level.  At Baseball Rebellion, we help show this to high school athletes by comparing HitTrax data of players who have gone to play at the next level
  • If you have relationships with college coaches ask them what they believe your strengths/weaknesses are. This is the best way to get your true evaluation as a player

COMMUNICATION

You’re practicing, lifting weights and playing games. The college coaches are at their team’s practices, their team’s lift’s and their team’s games. Both parties are extremely busy but coaches still have to recruit and if they want to see you/talk to you then you have to make time for this to happen.

Most of the recruiting during the season will be done through phone calls, emails, text messages and direct messages on social media. This is very important because the first impression a coach has of you might not be in person.

STAND OUT DURING COMMUNICATION

The coach you talk to might be making 15 other recruiting phone calls that day. If you are really interested in that school you must do something that helps separate you from the others calls he or she makes. Here are some tips to help you better phone communicate with college recruiters:

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

These college coaches spend countless hours talking to your coaches, watching you play and looking at your stats. If they are spending this time doing their “homework” on you, then you need to be doing your “homework” on that school. If you get the chance to talk to a coach during the season, make sure you know how THEIR season is going and don’t just talk about yours. Know their most recent games/results, talk about how you’ve been keeping up with their schedule and what players you noticed are playing well. I can guarantee this is a great way to show the coach how interested you are.  

SEND YOUR HIGH SCHOOL AND TRAVEL TEAM’S SCHEDULE

Most of the time coaches will have a spreadsheet of all of their recruit’s high school and travel team schedules. And a lot of man hours are put into scouring the internet trying to find that information. One of the best things you can do is send your schedule to school’s you are interested in. This will help save a lot of time for the coaches.

KNOW THE RULES

It is very important that you have an understanding of the recruiting rules so you don’t get yourself or the coaches a violation. Here is a chart highlighting some important information to know when it comes to rules and recruiting:

You can find great information on more recruiting rules at Recruiting Look.

SUMMER BALL/TRAVEL BALL

The most important “recruiting” season for both baseball and softball will be during your summer travel season. I spoke about it on the podcast last week that if you are a baseball player who is wanting to play in college you need to be on a team who goes down to Lake Point in Emerson, GA to play in the World Wood Bat Association. This is the MOST centralized recruiting area for college coaches in the county. Thousands of players go every summer and nearly every coach at every level will be there at some point to recruit players.

The most important thing you can do going into the summer season is making sure that school’s you have been communicating with have your travel schedule and be sure to send them updates any time there are changes. The last thing you want to have happen is for a coach to show up at a field/tournament that you’re not playing in anymore expecting to watch you play. Find out what college connections your travel ball coach has and if there are any you would be interested in. Sometimes it could be best for you to be proactive and reach out to schools that you have a REALISTIC chance of playing at.

The last thing I want to add is that if you find yourself panicking because you are not being recruited, know that there is a place out there for everyone to play. There are so many levels of four-year schools, junior colleges, and NAIA schools that there more than likely a place out there for you. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to Junior Colleges in your area or in your state and see if there are still looking for players. There are numerous situations of student-athletes signing with a junior college summer after their senior year.

I really hope you all found this article informative. I used my knowledge gained while working on coaching staffs in high school, college and travel ball to help get this information to you in hopefully a very understandable way!

Found this article informative?  Check out Tyler’s last recruiting article here!

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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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Culture, Motivation, and Giving Back: The “Green Bell” Phenomenon

 

 

A few weeks ago, as the new Baseball/Softball Rebellion HQ facility in Durham, NC started to come together, we purchased a giant green bell that we hung up by the door.  Players, when achieving a new record on the HitTrax or Rapsodo devices got to ring the green bell.  The idea is allowing players, young and old, to be recognized for their own achievements, has now turned into much more, and clearly is changing the culture here at Baseball Rebellion HQ for the better.

The culture at BR/SR is something that means more to me than anything other than my family.  Many of our instructors are here over 60 hours a week, and some even more than that.  The work and training environment at The Rebellion is one that the players, parents, instructional, and front desk staff must enjoy and feel a part of, or it all comes crashing down.  Baseball and Softball are sports of controlled aggression and also dealing with failure.  Making sure players understand that their lessons are a safe space to try new things, make mistakes, see how fast and far they can hit it all while asking questions and having a healthy dialog with their instructor is so hard to do.  With the green bell, we figured would be a fun way to make it a little bit more competitive among the athletes.  No one wants to have a ‘bell-less’ lesson now.  They strive to push themselves to hit or throw the ball higher, faster, and farther.  While this has been a huge change and a LOUD change, more change was to come.

The first client to ring the green bell was Kelly B.  A freshman D1 softball player.  Coming off an injury, she had some concerns about her power and bat speed returning to peak form before her season started.  When she got her first “green” number (when you set a record on the HitTrax the max distance or max velocity number turns green) she skipped out of the cage and rung the bell.  I clapped, other instructors did too, and we went about our lesson.  Later, another kid in another cage, who was much younger than Kelly, got to ring the bell as well.  He sprinted from the cage, rang the bell as loudly as he could, and this time, the instructors, Kelly, and even the parents watching clapped.  He got numerous high fives from parents and spectators he didn’t know as he ran back to his cage to keep smashing balls.  We were 2 bell rings in, and Dave and I looked at each other, and we knew this was something that the entire BR/SR community would get behind.

The Green Bell Giving Back

How does the “Green Bell” give back?  As many of you know, the Launch Angle Tee is taking off!  I had been working on the tee for 4 years on and off when KC Judge and I met Brent Wright.  Brent is a prosthetist who makes arms and legs for his patients but also has a charity called LifeNabled, which does the same thing, free of charge, for kids in developing countries.  He helped KC and I design the tee and adapter top, so when it came time to go to the market I wanted to make sure I gave back to him the same way he gave to me with his time and expertise.  

My phone rang late a few nights ago, it was Brent.  His son, Connor, had just had a lesson and got to ‘ring the bell’ which he loved.  Brent said, “what if we make ringing the bell something that allows Baseball Rebellion and Launch Angle Tee to ‘give back’ with a donation to LifeNabled?”  At first, I wasn’t sure how we could get that done logistically.  “Dollar for every Dinger” was the first idea, really hard to keep track of that over the course of a day.  I was thinking maybe we give 10 dollars for every ‘new record’ or ‘green number’ on the HitTrax.  That means each time the bell gets rung, the player has ‘earned’ 10 dollars for LifeNabled which makes prosthetics for kids in need.  Brent and I settled on the 10 dollars for every Hittrax PR.  What’s really cool about that is every single time the bell gets rung, not only has the hitter or pitcher set a new personal record, but some kid in the developing world gets that much closer to walking without a crutch, riding a bike, or jumping around playing with other kids in their city or village.  BR/SR/LAT will donate 10 dollars per personal record achieved inside our Durham Facility up to $15,000 between now and April 30th.  

Brent Wright from LifeNabled:

“I am so excited to see how a positive action like setting a new PR will have another positive action that results in giving the gift of walking, running, and simply being a kid to someone else.  What a revolutionary way to get athletes motivated and also have a life-changing impact. We are thankful to Chas and his team for allowing us to be a part of this initiative. Now go hit some PR’s!”

 

I’d like to invite all of you reading this, whether your a Baseball Rebellion Fan or a Launch Angle Tee user, to check out the LifeNabled donation page https://lifenabled.org/donations/ and perhaps you’ll feel compelled to become a part of the Baseball Rebellion/Launch Angle Tee movement of giving the gift of mobility to a child in need.  BR/SR/LAT will be doing similar “give-backs” in the future, as we have been so fortunate to be in the position we are in to help players of all ages realize their dreams in baseball and softball from all over the world.  We all know that the Green Bell Gives Back initiative will get people even more excited about their abilities to help others and excite them even more to push the limits of their swings and pitching deliveries.

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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!

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Rebellion Recruiting – Player Development

Last week I provided a “Thursday Thoughts” video that talked about one of the most important factors for high school athletes who are going through the college recruiting process, development. High School recruits need to make sure that they find out what development plan a college’s coaching staff has for them specifically to grow and raise their ceiling. For those of you that missed the video here it is:

Like I explained in the video, I have seen countless players going through the process overlook what, in my opinion, needs to be one of the most important deciding factors in picking a school/program. Since that video was posted I have been asked several questions as to what exactly they need to be asking and looking for when it comes to finding out what that school’s development plan actually is and I want to use this article to help clear up any questions you may have. As I stated in the video, I am talking more to the players whose dream is to play on at the next level after college, but the information is also very beneficial to the player who just simply wants to have a great playing experience in college and get better while doing it.

Here are three main development criteria that I believe should be looked at when it comes to how well a school is at developing their athletes that play for them:

  1. Strength and Conditioning. One of the most important factors in development is getting into the weight room, getting stronger, putting on good mass and becoming more flexible. In my time in college baseball, rarely did I ever see a player come in and be put on a weight-loss program. Most high school athletes who are going to college for the first time aren’t knowledgeable on the most effective ways to gain weight/muscle by lifting weights.

When visiting a school make sure that you are shown the weight room and if possible, meet and talk with the strength and conditioning coach for that specific sport. Find out what they are going to do for you specifically to help get you bigger, faster and stronger. Have the coach and strength coach talk you through what the plan will be from the very first day you arrive on campus and moving forward. A really good strength coach will have the workouts/plans already printed out to walk you through their plan for you.

 

This part is so crucial but I often feel so overlooked. At the next level, scouts and teams are looking at players who throw the ball harder (the first things scouts do when seeing a pitcher for the first time is throw up that stalker radar gun), hit the ball harder/farther, and run faster. It’s nearly impossible to do any of those things without first getting in the weight room and getting stronger and faster.

 

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  1. Tracking Progress. Another important thing you want to see is what plan that coaching staff has in order to track your progress throughout your career. There is so much technology available nowadays to not at least use something in order to track data/progress. If a coach is telling you that they are going to do whatever they can to develop you as a player, then they need to have a way to show you your progress.

 

There are many different ways this can be accomplished when I was a coaching high school baseball we set up video cameras and filmed pitchers and hitters in practices and games. We would then have “classroom” sessions with the different positions and go over individuals film in private and in group settings. This sounds very simple, and it was, especially for a high school program with a budget that doesn’t compete with any college-level program. This was our way of tracking development and finding out things that each player needed to work on and get better at, and it is one of the reasons it will always be a successful program.

 

For schools and programs with a bigger budget, there are many technological advances in recent years that can far and away help with tracking progress and player development. With machines such as HitTrax, swing sensors like Blast Motion and Rapsodo for tracking numbers and video analysis systems such as Right View Pro and BATS, there is no excuse for bigger programs to not be able to use something from the list above to help with tracking the development of their players. When communicating with schools make sure you ask them what they use for player development, and if you hear a coach tell you that they don’t need any of that stuff to tell what you need to do to get better, then I suggest you kindly cross that school off your list.

 

There are many colleges out there who are finally putting an effort into player development and investing in these technological advances to help track progress and you will soon see that these schools will distance themselves from the rest of the pack. I had a reply to my video from one of my favorite twitter accounts to follow, JT Maguire, who is the Recruiting Coordinator at Lander University. Here is what he said:

I absolutely love this, just like getting the strength coach to show you how they will track your progress, get the coaching staff to show how they plan on tracking your playing development progress.

One other extremely important thing to remember is if you have a chance to visit the school, make sure you talk to the players on the team about what kind of development is being done. Often times the recruiting visit is “fluffed” a bit to give off the best possible appearance and to give the kid a great experience, but talking to the players who are currently on the team will give you a complete, real answer on what is actually being done with player development.

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  1. Next Level Success. Like I said in the video, shouldn’t the most important thing as a coaching staff is getting your players ready to succeed at the next level if that is what their dream is? I understand that some players have “maxed out” by the time they get to college and that their room for development is small but I believe if programs spent more time on developing their players by using all means possible to do so and less time focusing on bunt defenses and first and third plays then maybe more of their players would have more successful college and pro careers. Find out what schools are really devoting their time and effort to finding the most efficient, effective and informative ways to help their players succeed at college and onto the next level. The best way to do this is to look at what schools have a lot of players not only at the next level but succeeding at that level as well.

Here is a great article from the NCAA on the number of players from each school on 2017 postseason rosters. (Shout out Jim Penders, Head Coach at UConn, who is one of the best people in college baseball and has FIVE players on postseason rosters)

http://www.ncaa.com/news/baseball/article/2017-10-01/mlb-playoffs-2017-breaking-down-postseason-rosters-former-ncaa

This can also be applied to junior colleges who do a really good job of getting “fringe” players out of high school and turning them into high-level college prospects after developing at the junior college level.

Lately, I have seen more and more programs adding a “director of player development” position to their staff and I think this is awesome. If they use this position to find better ways for what their title is, “player development”, then I am very excited to see what the future of this position can become at the college level.

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I hope this article clears up the questions you had about what exactly my video was talking about. I have been a part of many different levels of the game of baseball and have learned that my absolute passion is getting players better. The information that I wrote about in this article comes from first-hand experience and I want all players and parents reading this article to use the information provided and help make their recruiting process and experience very enjoyable!

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Baseball Rebellion Expands to Florida!

Hey everyone! KC Judge here. In this article, I wanted to go over some of the exciting changes that are happening at Baseball Rebellion! This past month, I have relocated to Titus Sports Academy in Tallahassee, FL to take over their baseball and softball hitting instruction! I’m extremely excited for this opportunity!

Titus sports academy is a cutting-edge human performance training center in Tallahassee that is widely known for producing great high school, college, and professional athletes! They specialize in human performance but more recently have gotten involved in baseball/softball training. Adam Faurot, CEO of Titus, brought his son up to NC for some training and was so intrigued but what we do with hitters there, he decided he wanted Baseball Rebellion to be a part of his business.

Titus Sports Academy utilizes a Hittrax hitting system that will be used in every lesson. As an instructor, the Hittrax is such a valuable tool. Far too often, coaches lack the ability to prove what they advocate works. The Hittrax allows the hitter to come in and see how hard and how far they are hitting the baseball or softball. This is very important in regards to tracking progress. Titus Sports Academy is one of the only facilities in the North Florida area that has access to this technology!

Bottom line is, if Durham, NC is too far for you to travel to, now you can get the SAME instruction in Tallahassee! If you are in the Tallahassee area and are a fan of Baseball Rebellion/Softball Rebellion hitting technique, book your evaluation with me today! Please email me at kjudge@titussports.com if you have any questions. Thank you for reading!

 

 

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Baseball Rebellion Online Lessons Moved to Hudl Technique!

Baseball Rebellion Switching to Hudl Technique

I want to begin this post by sincerely thanking all of you who read our content, watch our videos, consult us for online lessons, and use our products. The feedback and support you have given us has been priceless and you and the reason that we constantly look for ways to improve the material we offer you. The latest improvement at Baseball Rebellion has come in the form of our online lessons. We have moved our online platform from the aging PowerChalk to HUDL Technique.

Hudl Technique allows for the easiest possible process of taking, uploading, and sharing video with a Baseball Rebellion hitting or pitching instructor through your Android or Apple device mobile or tablet device. Below, I will show you how easy this process truly is.

1. Download Hudl Technique App to Mobile Device

Hudl Technique

2. Sign Up as a Player (If You Do Not Already Have a Hudl Technique Account)

Hudl Technique

Simply enter your name, email, password, and select either Baseball or Softball.

2. Log In

Hudl Technique

Enter the email and password you used in Step 2.

3. Press Team Button on Side of Screen and Add Instructor

Hudl Technique

Press team button on side of screen ,then press “+” symbol on top right of screen. Select “Find on Hudl Technique” and enter your instructor’s email address. Below are the emails for Baseball Rebellion online instructors. Ideally, your instructor will be the only Hudl user on your team.

Gabe Dimock (Hitting): gabe@baseballrebellion.com

JK Whited (Hitting): jk@baseballrebellion.com

KC Judge (Hitting): kc@baseballrebellion.com

Tyler Zupcic (Hitting): tyler@baseballrebellion.com

Dave Shinske (Baseball Pitching): dave@baseballrebellion.com

Kara Willis (Softball Pitching): kara@softballrebellion.com

4. Record or Import Video in Hudl Technique

Hudl Technique

Press record button on side of screen and take desired video or import videos from your device. When finished press “Done”.

5. Tag Video and Share With Baseball Rebellion Instructor

Hudl Technique

Hudl Technique

On this screen, you will select “hitting” or “pitching” as the technique, tag yourself (labeled “Me”) in the video and share with your team. You may also leave comments for your instructor at the top of this screen.

6. Leave App Open Until Video Shares Completely

Hudl Technique

If the app is closed before upload finishes, your instructor will not receive the video.

As you can see from these easy steps, The Hudl Technique app is extremely user-friendly.

Instructor Feedback

Our instructor feedback is the best in the industry with a great turn around time of only three business days. The feedback given is in depth but easy to understand. Next steps and recommended drills are always provided at the end of each lesson. In order to give you an idea for what an online lesson looks like with each Baseball Rebellion instructor, below are video examples.

Gabe Dimock

JK Whited

KC Judge

Tyler Zupcic

Dave Shinskie

Online Lesson Packages

Our online lesson packages come in four possible packages:

Gold: Unlimited video per month ($159/month)

Silver: 6 videos per month ($119/month)

Bronze: 3 videos per month ($79/month

1 Time Hitting Analysis: 1 video ($40)

Click here to view the full online lesson page!

Thank you for reading and we look forward to helping you build your swing through Hudl Technique!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

 

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Understanding the Recruiting Process – While Enjoying It (Part I)

The recruiting process is an exciting time, or at least it should be. In my experience as a Division I Softball Coach, I found a lot of the potential student-athletes I spoke with felt stressed about the process. The recruiting process can be daunting – or so it seems. In this three part article, I will address the do’s and don’ts of recruiting, what a college coach is looking for, how to better enjoy the experience of recruitment and the timeline of recruiting. 

Part I: Simplifying the first five steps in the recruiting process: from making your dream list of schools to evaluations at recruiting events. I will be taking you step by step through the process and answering commonly asked questions.

Part II: Breaking down the importance of the recruiting video and how to maximize your views by coaches (what to include in your video and what to omit).

Part III: Simplifying the last three steps in the recruiting process; pre and post-campus visit etiquette, attending camps, and receiving offers from schools. I will also go over the overall recruiting timeline for D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA. 

1. Finding the Right Fit as a STUDENT.

First and foremost, education is the number one priority.  You want to ultimately choose the right school for you and your future – athletics is an excellent bonus. As a potential student-athlete, you need to take a moment and eliminate the athlete component from the equation. Grab a pen and paper: on one side of the sheet write down potential areas of study you are interested in and on the other side write down your top 10 schools of choice. This is a great place to begin.  With this short list, begin to research if your schools of choice have your major. At this point, you have been able to eliminate some options from your list. You never want to limit yourself, so your next step would be to research schools similar to your top choices academically. I advise you to consider ALL divisions at this stage in the process. In the early stages, I suggest you begin with a list of 15 schools with your major and that meet your needs academically – such as ACT/SAT score requirements, GPA, and academic scholarship options. 

Image result for studentImage result for student

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Finding the Right Fit as a PERSON.

Are you looking for a university with 30,000 students or 2,000? Would you want to be in a more rural location? Do you want to be close to home or far away? Do you want to go to a school where it is warm year-round (or for a season)? Would you prefer a private university or state? These questions are all important in making sure you make the right decision for you and your happiness with the college experience. It is a great idea to write down your wish list and what are deal-breakers for you vs. traits of a university you could look past. With this list, you can continue to do research on the settings of the schools on your list. Putting in the front-end work will make the official/unofficial visit process much easier later on.

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3. Creating a Recruiting Video/What to List on Your Player Profile

The creation of a recruiting video is a hot topic. In my article next week, I will discuss the content that is crucial to include in YOUR video. For now, let’s discuss the relevance of the recruiting video. The recruiting video is a snap shot of who you are as a player. In your video, you want to highlight what makes you stand out, all in a relatively short amount of time. This snap shot allows coaches to get a glimpse of you before they add you to their list of players to watch at recruiting events (camps, showcases, clinics, etc.) It is important that you treat your recruiting video as such. With this being said, it is also important to create a player profile with important information about you to attach to your video.

Below is an example of a player profile done well. As you can see, the PSA (Potential Student Athlete) has listed her name, graduation year, position, L/R information, high school information (athletic and academic), travel information, specialty coaches (slapping, catching, hitting, pitching), and accomplishments. It is important to attach a sheet like this to your emails to coaches so they have all the information they need about you to make sure you are the right fit for that particular university and program. 

 Image result for softball player profile sample

4. Communicating with Coaches (Key information they need to know)/Knowing NCAA rules

So, now you know you should attach a player profile and recruiting video to your initial contact with a coach, but what should you be talking to them about in your emails? It is important to make sure ALL of your information is accurate – correct coach name, correct university/college name, personal message (show that you have knowledge of the school), and list your travel ball schedule. Coaches like to work early! As soon as you get your information from your travel coach, send it over to the coaches you are in contact with. If there are any updates in the schedule be sure to share that with the coaches as well. Communication is the key to forming any great relationship – keep an open line of communication with the coaches you’re contacting. Also, notice how I have not once mentioned having someone else send these emails for you? Coaches want to hear from YOU…they will be coaching YOU. Please do not be shy, communicate with them often and genuinely. 

It is important to brush up on the rules (D1, D2, D3, NAIA, NJCAA). You will be sending more emails than receiving from coaches – a major component of this is from the rules. Do not let this deter you from sending emails with a purpose. When you see that coach at an event be aware of the rules in which they need to follow (contact, evaluations, etc.) There are many times when players have tried to make in person contact with a coach in person when it is not permissible for the coach to do so. They are not ignoring you, they are following the rules for the safety of their program and you! 

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5. Attributes Coaches Look for at Tournaments

I will keep this section simple. When coaches attend recruiting events, they not only are evaluating athletic performance but your interactions. How do you respond to failure? How do you interact with your coaches, teammates, umpires, and opponents? The best way to view this is to see the game of softball as a game of opportunity – train hard, work hard, be compassionate towards others, be a good person, and the game will reward you. This does not just apply to NCAA Division I – there is a place for everyone and there is no shame finding your home at a D2, D3, Juco or NAIA school. All coaches at all levels are looking for quality people with softball skills that can better their program and culture. 

Image result for sportsmanship softball

These are the key steps to get you to the point before coaches invite you on campus for unofficial and official visits. In my next article we will discuss recruiting videos in more detail (providing a sample recruiting video), pre and post-campus visit etiquette, attending camps, and receiving offers from schools. Until then, good luck on the recruiting trail – remember this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and this experience is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it!

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Launch Angle Tee Pre-Orders Are Live

Great news rebels!  The Launch Angle Tee site is live!  You can pre-order your complete Launch Angle tee or get your adapter now!

Visit http://www.launchangletee.com/store to get yours today!  Hurry because for a limited quantity Launch Angle Tees are on sale for 79.99!!