For my first case study since I have been at Baseball Rebellion I’m going to look at 17-year-old high school junior Jacob W.. Jacob and his parents make the two hour and fifteen minute trip once a week from Lynchburg, Virginia to Baseball Rebellion HQ in Durham, NC for hitting and throwing instruction. The long weekday trips have paid off for Jacob. Beside his dramatic improvements at the plate, he has gone from 76mph in his first initial evaluation to 91mph in his most resent visit. I first met Jacob and his parents in late November of 2017 where I saw him throw for the first time. It is now February 13th, 2018 and I have worked with him for a total of 7 lessons.
At 6’1″ 225lbs, Jacob definitely passes the eye. After watching him in the hitting cage, Jacob seemed to be very explosive with exit velocities over 100mph and home runs over 400 feet. After hitting with Chas for a few months, he asked me to do a throwing evaluation. I was surprised, despite his stature and ability to hit the ball a mile, he was not able to generate as much velocity on his throws. The following video is his initial evaluation with me.
Jacob W: Initial Evaluation Video 76mph
When looking at Jacobs throws across the diamond, I first saw that he was very tight through his arm swing. He didn’t allow his arm to get relaxed, which made his arm get very far outside of his body during the throw. So we started with the upper body movements and I showed him a variety of arm swing drills which we had him do every day. The arm swing drills allowed Jacob to feel his arm and trunk working together, which promotes healthier and more efficient positions through the throw. At times, we incorporate a slightly heavier ball, like a 10oz plyoball or a football, to start our throwing sessions to augment with the feeling of the arm swing. We also focused on a better deceleration process with a lower and more relaxed finish through the throw. This process is important when trying to accelerate the arm faster. Instantly stopping the arm in deceleration, if not fixed, can lead to loss of velocity and accuracy, and more importantly, arm injury issues down the road. Basically, these drills helped Jacob relax his body throughout his throwing motion, which is tough sometimes with his body-type.
Jacob also had to work on his hip mobility and speed through his lower half. The lower body is so important when trying to create more intent through a throw. We started Jacob with simple drills, like the Shoulder Separation Drill, to enhance the patterns needed to constantly get the hips and shoulders separated with more speed. The purpose of the separation with speed is to allow the hips to lead the thrower into the throw while keeping their head and chest behind their back hip when the front foot hits. When doing this, the thrower can let their shoulders and trunk rotate forward through the throw. That is is when we saw the drastic change in ball flight and velocity in Jacobs throws after working these upper and lower body drills.
Below is another one of the drill I did with Jacob during is training. It is called the Rock Drill with Transfer. This drill helps the thrower feel the proper arm swing while learning to transfer his body through the throw. Notice how Jacob uses the motion of a circle to allow his arms to relax and properly rotate through the acceleration phase.
Rock Drill with Transfer
Jacob has been dedicated to my program and has been working hard the past few weeks for the following change to occur. I really had no idea that the improvements the Jacob has made were even possible in such a short period of time. It has got to the point where I told him and his father, “I’m really excited to see what he can get!”. Literally every week he comes in with a number goal for that day and he passes it. The past two times he has hit 88mph and most recently an unbelievable jump to 91mph.
Jacob hit 88mph
Jacob was so excited after hitting 88mph but just fell short of the magic number 90. I told him to trust the process and movements because we know they obviously are working for him. Even though it was hard to think that he can make that big of a jump in such short of time. We still wanted to see that 90+ number. He showed up this week and accomplished something incredible:
Jacob hit 91mph!
I am so happy for Jacob and his family and the accomplishments that he has already had Baseball Rebellion. I have enjoyed working with him and getting to know his caring family. I get excited every time Jacob is on the schedule and I promise to keep delivering the information he needs to reach his fullest potential. Jacob, if you are reading this, I am excited to see you in the facility soon and keep working hard…you deserve all the success you are achieving! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed!
This week JK will discuss how learning to swing up can drastically change your chances for success. Dave will dive into how position players can greatly benefit from quarterback like practice. New comers, Eric Tyler and Tyler Zupcic weigh in on the college recruitment process. Eric and Tyler both have spent extensive time in college baseball and have great insight if your son or daughter is thinking about the next level. Thanks for listening!
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 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!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball and Softball Rebellion
This past week I tweeted a quick drill without going too far in depth into why we do the drill and what it is for. I use this drill for pitchers and position players of all ages every day in my lessons. It works so well that I wanted to share it with all our readers in hopes that it will make your (or your son/daughter’s) delivery safer and more effective. Hope you enjoy!
In the video below I explain the first of three phases of the Band Separation Drill. A good arm swing starts right out of the glove. It is involved with the first initial movement of the lower half momentum. As the lower half drives toward the target, the throwing arm should be relaxed out of the glove.
The reason I use the band is to allow my brain and body to work together. Use the tension of the band to allow the body to do most of the work. You do not necessarily want to PULL the band into position.
The reason for a more consistent arm swing, and why we want to integrate a proper sequence of movements, is to maintain a healthy and effective delivery. We want to avoid teaching cues like show the ball to center fielder and point the glove to the target because these cues make the player’s hands break away from each other which leads to unhealthy and uneffective timing flaws. For example, pitchers that have these tend to have their head/trunk very forward too early in the delivery.
The photos above are of Carter Capps pitching for the Marlins before he was traded to the San Diego Padres. Capps received Tommy John Surgery in March of 2015 and needed surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this offseason. They hope he will be back for 2108 spring training but he is a huge question mark for a return to full health. Capps was one of the most promising young pitchers of the game at one point but poor mechanics have hurt him. WHY? You can see above that he points his glove right to the target and tries to hide the ball on his backside. There is no arm swing involved with this delivery. He also does a crazy leap forward off of the mound, which puts him in a very bad spot at foot strike. His elbow is above his shoulder with his upper body forward over his belt. This type of delivery is bad because he never allows his posture to change to continue his shoulders to rotate properly toward the target. The next part of the drill goes into how proper posture change leads to an efficient position at front foot strike.
Drill Part 2: Shoulder Separation with Posture Change
Drill Part 3: Rotation into Ball Release
40 Minute Fix
Please comment below, email me email@example.com, or tweet @Dshinbone15 or @BRrebellion with any questions about this drill!
Want the bands that Dave is using in this drill? Check out our store to purchase the bands!
What a year it has been for Adam Parzych at national home run derby events. The Tallahassee native and Baseball Rebellion at Titus Sports Academy client has won both Power Showcases for the 2017 year at the 14U level. A tremendous, unprecedented accomplishment for an athlete his age.
Earlier in the year, Adam competed at the Power Showcase at Globe Life Park in Arlington in which he cruised to victory after hitting 12 home runs in the preliminary round and 9 in the championship round. If you are interested in reading more about that article, click here The competition was stiffer in Miami compared to Arlington. Not to take anything away from Adams victory in Arlington, but even Jeff, Adam’s father, said,
“The competition was definitely of a higher caliber at the event in Miami compared to Arlington.”
As soon as Adam returned from his win in Arlington, we got back in the cage and continued our work. Adam made some huge strides in terms of understanding his swing between these events. I can’t give enough credit to our use of the HitTrax in every lesson to let us know where Adam was at launch angle and distance wise. It was a huge advantage for Adam in competing in these events.
What’s funny about Adam is, I would describe him as an average sized 14 year old. Listed at 5’10 and 165 pounds, he had no definitive size advantage in comparison to some of the participants in his age group yet he blew away the competition. His swing and his ability to execute his swing is what made this event even easier for him to win.
In the preliminary round, Adam bashed out 18 home runs with the next closest participant hitting 13 home runs. The furthest ball hit in the 14-year-old group was 445 feet and Adams furthest was originally listed at 400 but has since been changed and marked at an actual distance of 442 feet. That’s some type of power out of a 5’10 165 pound frame. In the championship round, Adam blasted 9 home runs good for 27 total and another Power Showcase Championship to his name. On top of his victory, Adam is the ONLY Power Showcase event participant to win the event and run the fastest 60-yard dash at the 14U division. Speed and power is quite the combination.
I write this article because I am so proud of Adam and his commitment to my teaching, mentoring, and the Baseball Rebellion hitting methodology. It takes quite the willingness to have success at a young age and enroll in hitting lessons in an effort to get even better. There are so many hitters out there that invest an irrational amount of time in other training modalities (strength and conditioning, mental coaching etc.) but won’t invest in a deeper understanding of what’s most important to a position players baseball career, their swing.
I wasn’t physically able to attend this event like I did in Arlington, but I was able to watch it via live stream on the power showcase website. Power Showcase does an amazing job of running this event year in and year out and every participant should understand, regardless of their outcome, how lucky they are to even hit on a big league field. The Miami Marlins park is a beautiful venue. Here is one of the many pictures I received that weekend from Adam’s Dad.
I’m excited about Adam and his future in baseball. In closing, we’re in the midst of 2 stances in regards to the sport of baseball. There is the “all play, no train” crowd (kids who play year round with little to no athletic training) which is not good. But now, I am seeing the “all train, no play” crowd (those who move places to train, refuse to go to showcases or events until they are “ready, won’t sign with a team etc.) and I think that’s just as bad, if not worse than, those who play year round. Neither is correct, but as a player, you should aim for a balance of both. I encourage athletes to train hard but also, go to events like showcases, home run derbies, national events and see where you stand. Humble yourself. I’m happy Adam is able to implement what we work on in his training to the events he attends. Congratulations Adam!
KC Judge, CSCS
Lead Hitting Instructor, Baseball Rebellion at TITUS Sports Academy-Tallahassee
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.
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.
Does your son or daughter have slider spin when throwing a fastball? A common problem in youth baseball is not informing kids that slider spin on a fastball is not ideal for throw/pitch efficiency. How can you identify if your son or daughter has slider spin on the ball in their throws? First thing is knowing what you are looking for when you’re playing catch in the backyard. If your son or daughter is a righthanded thrower, the first good indicator of slider spin is YOU may be catching the ball on the right side of your body consistently pulling the throws across your body. A slider has a clockwise rotation and spins on an axis that faces to player indicated by the blue line in the gif below. When playing catch you will be able to identify slider spin by seeing a circle in the middle of the ball. For righty or lefty throwers a 4 seam fastball should have close to perfect vertical spin/12 o’clock to 6 o’clock spin. A 2-seam fastball’s axis, in comparison to a righty, points towards 11 o’clock. For young kids slider spin when throwing a 4 seam fastball is not horrible for them but can become a bad habit to break. Plus we want to have the correct spin on the ball, especially as a pitcher. In this article, we will identify slider spin, what causes it, and how we can help eliminate it from 4 seams and 2 seam fastballs.
What Causes Slider Spin
The main culprit that causes slider spin is the release point of the middle finger off a fastball grip. Most the time kids can’t help throwing the ball off the middle finger because:
The middle finger is their dominant finger and longer than the index finger.
Young kids tend to throw with three fingers, with a tendency to release on the side of the ball, again off the middle finger.
Their arm swing doesn’t allow them to get on top of the ball. This is when mechanics play a role in causing slider spin.
Kids, Parents, and Youth Coaches don’t have the knowledge on how to teach the throw and release of the ball properly. This is the problem with many my youth pitchers.
A 4 seam fastball is the most common pitch and the ideal grip for a position player as well on the transition from glove to hand. WHY? Because at release point the finger causes backspin on the baseball. The result is the ball does not drop as much as otherwise, without backspin. In other words, a 4 seam fastball is really appearing to defy gravity and travel more in a straight line. A 2 seam fastball is thrown with similar backspin but again on 11 o’clock axis.
The Magnus Effect
The pitcher is taking advantage of the Magnus Effect when throwing a fastball. The Magnus Effect is when a spinning sphere effects the air pressure around it. The side of the baseball spinning with the direction it is traveling moves against the air faster, creating more drag and pressure on the ball which causes the air to push on it. On the opposite side of the ball, air pressure is reduced which makes the ball travel easier in that direction when a spinning sphere effects the air pressure around.
When throwing a curve or slider the Magnus Effect is being taken advantage even more than fastballs. The topspin of a curveball and the side spin of a slider makes the ball drop and cut. Both grips and releases cause the seam to push air around to change the pressure on the ball.
How Can We Fix It
Asking if a kid can see that slider spin is occurring is a common question I will bring up in lessons. Having a thought process and feeling with what they are doing is something that he or she can control and fix from throw to throw but it is not often taught. We like to have kids visualize and react to what is being said and into what is being felt. When trying to recognize the slider spin, the catcher should be able to see where the thrower is missing with his fastball. Seeing the ball out of the thrower’s hand and knowing that a slider has clockwise spin on the baseball you will be able to clearly tell that they released the ball wrong.
The arm swing and finish is the hardest thing to correct in a thrower besides having a feel for which finger the ball is coming off of through the throw. Lucky Baseball Rebellion has developed some fairly simple concepts to allow your child to efficiently enhance upper body mechanics and arm swing. Here is a #TransformationTuesday tweet from Baseball Rebellion showing how a forty minute lesson can help your son or daughter with arm swing mechanics.
Being able to identify if your son or daughter is trying to throw a 4 or 2 seam fastball and throwing a slider instead is also key. They are different spin axises that affect a consistent ball path. So when playing catch learn how to pay attention to spin on the baseball along with consistent movements. Ask your son or daughter what they are feeling on a throw to throw basis. What finger did the ball feel like it came off? Did you see the spin on the ball? Where was your eyesight? Your arm swing looked a little stiff, did you feel that?
In conclusion, clearly, the seams on a baseball have a huge role in affecting the flight of the ball. Learning how to create correct spin needed to give a throw/pitch the highest potential for success is huge in developing effective throwers.
This is something we can now measure here at Baseball Rebellion. Our new Rapsodo is a great tool that measures and tracks Velocity, Total Spin, Spin Axis, Spin Efficiency, True Spin, Strike Zone Analysis, and Vertical and Horizontal Break. It is an amazing product that can pinpoint adjustments needed to be made to improve any baseball throwers.
While offense and defense in baseball seem like very independent skills, they become more and more intertwined as players age and are being evaluated. For this reason developing quality defensive skills and picking defensive positions wisely is important to understand for any higher level baseball or softball player.
As you will read more about later in this article, certain defensive positions have more value than others. That being said, young players should build a good foundation by learning to play all positions because the particular body type, skills, and abilities of a player can change drastically as players age. Learning all the positions is also a great way to grow a young player’s general baseball knowledge so that they can instinctually know where every player on the field should be. The only exceptions to this rule are left handed players who should understand all positions but focus their skill development efforts on outfield, 1st base, or pitching. The baseball field simply isn’t set up well for left handers to play 2nd, 3rd, SS, or catcher. Most players should continue to play a wide variety of positions until at least middle school. For a great example of the value of understanding all positions, we can look at Lebron James who’s basketball IQ added to his freakish athleticism makes him arguably the best player ever. Here was a recent quote from The King himself:
I think the best thing for me personally is that ever since I was a kid I’ve always learned every position on the floor. When I started playing ball, for some odd reason, I could learn every single position on the floor all at one time, as a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center and know all the plays, what they’re doing and what’s the reads.
As players enter middle and high school, it is normal for there to be narrowing of the number of positions in the player’s arsenal. This happens because body types, skills, and talents are being more solidified and more repetitions can be taken where that player fits best. Most players simply let their coach dictate the positions they will play but I encourage players to advocate for themselves and take ownership of their own careers. In order to do this, you may have to go above and beyond at practice to show that your defensive skills make you worthy if playing your position of choice. The positions in the middle of the field (SS, 2b, CF, C) tend to be more highly valued than positions on the corners (LF, RF, 3b, 1b).
While not everyone can play shortstop, I do think it is advantageous for aspiring players to develop their skills for SS, 2b, C, or CF. The reason for this is multifactorial. The first factor is that these positions are more highly valued by coaches, scouts, and the baseball community at large. For example a good defensive shortstop who struggles at the plate will still have a good chance of making a team and getting significant playing time compared to a good defensive right fielder who struggles at the plate. This is due in part to the types of athletes that you are being compared to. Most college and professional corner outfielders are absolute monsters who have passed through the weeding out process because of their size and hitting abilities. In other words, no matter how good your defense is, if you play the corners, you better be able to hit. A good case study for this concept is the career of Omar Vizquel who was an unbelievably skilled defensive shortstop. Vizquel had a career batting average of .272, 80 HR, and an OPS of . 688 and is on the hall of fame ballot. While these offensive numbers are not terrible, they in no way indicate a potential hall of fame acceptance. It was clearly Vizquel’s defensive prowess that made him a three time all star. Let’s pretend that Vizquel played LF instead of SS for a moment and was equally as skilled a left fielder as he was a SS. Do you think he would be nearly as highly regarded as he is today? Not a chance.
Another reason to develop at the highly valued defensive positions is that they generally require more athleticism. The work it will take to become skilled at those positions will help in every other facet of the game because the player’s athletic ability will be boosted. Even if these positions will not be the final destinations for players, it is smart to continue to play them through high school because college coaches and professional scouts often believe that players in premium defensive positions have the ability to move to non-premium defensive positions but not the other way around. For instance, both San Diego Padres star Wil Myers and Bryce Harper were primarily catchers through high school but were moved to corner outfield for their professional careers.
While I don’t want to overestimate the importance of playing certain positions, I do want talented young players and there parents to be aware of the impact it can have on the perceived value of a player as a whole. I was a walk on player at Appalachian State solely because of my defensive skills as a catcher. I wasn’t a great hitter or runner but I could defend. Had I been equally as good at 3b, 1b, LF, or RF, I have no doubt that I would have never had the great experience of playing collegiate baseball.
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor
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. Heappeared 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!
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:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!