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Disclaimer: This article is somewhat self-serving and biased as I am a private instruction coach...and Baseball Rebellion/Softball Rebellion is an instructional company...but there is a tremendous value in continuing lessons during the season to make sure your movements stay sharp and to maximize the return on the time and financial investment in a player's swing or pitching delivery.
The new year brings more than resolutions here at Baseball Rebellion HQ, it brings in tons of hitting/pitching evaluations and old & new clients fresh from basketball season cramming a few lessons in before tryouts. Some of the kids have worked on their swings year round, others, won't even work on them now as they prepare to head to a bigger field for a school team. Our clients range from novice players who need to improve fast in order to be able to continue to play baseball/softball at any level to some of the most dedicated, talented travel ball kids you will ever see. Obviously, we give the same attention to all our clients, what truly determines their ability is how much attention and time they invest to their own plans for improvement.
Its mid-February here in North Carolina. Many programs are days away from having their tryouts or are in the middle of them as I type. We have seen the extreme influx of new clients not only due to the new facility but also due to the proximity of tryouts. Once teams are selected, probably within a few days of Valentine's Day, the decision comes on whether to continue lessons during their seasons or stop and just practice/play with their teams. Some kids, obviously, will not have made the team they are trying out for, and those kids have to decide if they want to double down and go for it next year or move on to another sport or activity altogether.
Assuming you made your team, you're going to have quite a schedule change! Practice daily after school, games two times a week, bus rides, homework constraints...it gets hectic quick! It's easy to see why some parents choose to just let their kids play with their teams and play their season out with the swing or delivery they brought to tryouts. The other side of that coin, however, is continuing lessons and learning while you play. The best way I can describe this: Stopping lessons in-season is like stopping studying before exams.
Many of our students at Baseball Rebellion, and others across the country fail to see the value of continuing their baseball/softball education during the season. Here are just a few examples that we've already helped clients with this season:
There is also a TON of approach work we can do as instructors based on in-season results:
It's amazing how much simply communicating with your instructor about your games (and ESPECIALLY showing you their swing/delivery video) will change the direction of your lessons and therefore your season.
There is a ton of value in 'just playing' and 'getting reps'. We get it. No one trains for baseball/softball just for the fun of training, you train to get better for the games. Baseball and softball skill work is a constantly adapting and evolving movement group. The game results/failures/successes should DETERMINE the direction of your continued work and training. Game results and game video is the MOST VALUABLE information you can present to a qualified instructor and they can directly influence your results in an extremely positive way. Sure, a lesson missed here or there is fine. Dropping to every other week is fine as well! Just consider keeping your instruction going during a season if you normally stop it, even if you pitch, because inside your season's results lies the exact info your instructor needs to make you a monster.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Rebellion
Eric Tyler, Baseball Rebellion Hitting and Fielding Instructor
Interested in Lessons at Baseball Rebellion HQ in Durham, NC: Call 919-309-0040 or email Mark Miller at email@example.com
The mission and vision of Baseball Rebellion has been simple and consistent since the the beginning of the company. That mission is to change the way baseball and softball are played and coached everywhere through finding, teaching, and producing the best possible information and content in all areas of baseball training. We have made great progress through individual lessons, both in person and online. The vast majority of our clients, ranging from 6 year olds to MLB clients, have experienced dramatic improvements through Baseball Rebellion’s one-on-one training. Over the past few years we have realized that coaches of teams can play a large role in the acceleration of our mission. Baseball Rebellion has produced four coaching clinics that cover hitting, pitching/throwing, catching, and The Basics of Baseball. We are extremely excited about the value we believe these clinics can bring to your team, league, or organization. Below is a quote from one of the coaches who purchased our coaching clinics.
We at Pleasanton American Little League have purchased this Online Coaches Clinic to bolster our League training. I’ve watched all the pitching videos numerous times in the last two months. I watched your 2014 hitting videos several times, and now that you’ve released the 2015 hitting videos, I’ve made my way through them. This product can be described in many superlatives, but the one that sticks in my head the most is: PHENOMENAL.
Every baseball organization interested in improving their knowledge and culture should look no further than this Coaches’ Clinic. The information is thorough, well-presented, understandable, and correct. The platform is applicable for Leagues, Travel Ball, High School…and at $500 total for both the hitting and the pitching clinics, I’d buy it for just me and my two sons.
$500?! The value of this product is easily 10X that. It’s exactly the elite quality that people have come to expect from Baseball Rebellion.
-Tony C., Pleasanton California
In order to give you a taste of the great content in the clinics, we are releasing free demos for you to view! Below the demo videos, there is an outline of all the content included in the full version. Click the links below to take you to the demo pages for each clinic. Enjoy!
For many years, the Chicago Cubs have been building their team around young position players. Many of us know about the young talent that has debuted in the Major Leagues over the past few years including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber. However, The latest buzz includes the Cubs top prospect Gleybar Torres as he was recently traded to the New York Yankees for heralded closer Aroldis Chapman. This deal was interesting in that it found two teams in unfamiliar positions with the Yankees being sellers and the Cubs being buyers. Even though Aroldis Chapman is undeniably one of the best closers in baseball, closers have a limited ceiling regarding their impact on a team compared to a middle infielder with a solid glove who can also hit. Given the Yankees and Cubs respective needs and situations, I think this trade makes sense for both teams. That being said, I wanted to evaluate Torres’ swing as he must live up to the expectations set before him in order for this trade to make long term sense for the Yankees.
Gleybar Torres has some room for improvement with the bat but the good news is that he has plenty of time given that he won’t turn twenty until December of 2016. In the breakdown above, I examine two of Torres’ swings. In general, professional hitters’ movement patterns are consistent given that they have repeated their swing over and over for many years. Torres goes against this trend in that his movement pattern is inconsistent from swing to swing. Torres shows the ability to perform elite movements but has trouble putting those movements together consistently. For instance, Torres displays a great forward load in his first swing but shows a better turn in his second. The consistency of movement is something that we talk a lot about at Baseball Rebellion because it allows the hitter to limit the number of variables in an incredibly reactionary and difficult task.
Being a Yankees fan, I am excited to see the Yankees building around young talent. With time on his side, Torres has a great opportunity to prepare for the Big Apple by grooving his swing and developing his strength and speed over the next couple of years.
Thank you for watching and reading.
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor
So this year, Baseball Rebellion has done lots of LIVE periscope footage show on our twitter handle @BRrebellion. Therefor this year we obviously had to include some LIVE footage during the 2016 Home Run Derby Competition! We had a great time and hoped you all enjoyed the Periscope and LIVE commentary from JK’s new house.
Mark Trumbo and Kyle Seager was a really fun first round and opened the derby up with many BANGS. Seager has a great swing, but just couldn’t match the power of Trumbo.
Giancarlo Stanton, the 2nd overall pick of the Home Run Derby draft by Chas, the HR DERBY CHAMPION, Pippitt, obliterated Robinson Cano. Since Cano won the HR Derby a few years ago, he’s participated in 2 derbys and gone out in the first round in both. It feels like his Home Run Derby Days are over.
Adam Duvall really surprised us here. Duvall had one of the best swings in the HR Derby while we all thought that Myers had one of the worst. Obviously, all of these guys can really hit, and Duvall did a great job with his upward extension and completion of his turn.
Todd Frazier is built for the derby. He’s huge and we were surprised to see that his awkward finish, when his swing was slowed down, was not really effecting his almost perfect pre-impact swing. Cargo was asleep… After getting a ton of advice from Cano about HR Derby Approach, and JK’s 1st pick of the HR Derby Draft, he was by far the biggest bust. JK’s reign as Baseball Rebellion HR Derby Champion was concluded with an unceremonious THUD! Swinging half heartedly, Carlos Gonzales was more interested in his post HR Derby party, than actually swinging hard for the fans.
Giancarlo Stanton sent Mark Trumbo packing with another impressive round. Trumbo ran into the buzz saw that was Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton.
Adam Duvall represented well here, but he was no match for Frazier, the HR Derby Pro and defending champion. This was my first, and only, time on the loser side of the couch, but I had a meeting with Giancarlo before his last round to make sure this was my last time in this spot.
The Champ Is HERE! All order has been restored to the Baseball Rebellion world with Chas Pippitt, the Leader of the Baseball Rebellion, taking his rightful place as the 2016 HR Derby Champion. We hope you all loved our perspectives on the HR Derby and got a chance to enjoy our personalities in a different way than you usually get to see through Baseball Rebellion our articles and breakdowns. Thanks for reading, and let us know your thoughts on the Derby Below!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
There is a familiar saying that time is money. While this is certainly true in life, it is also true in baseball. There is no greater technical advantage given to a player than one that allows them to have more time. The following Sports Science video shows why even the smallest amount of time can be extremely valuable to a hitter in either baseball or softball.
As you saw in the video above, the minor league hitter only had .395 seconds to react to a 95 MPH baseball pitch while the same hitter had even less time at .350 seconds to hit a 70 MPH Softball pitch. So how does a hitter allow themselves more time? The best way to achieve this is to increase the efficiency of their body movement to create maximal bat speed on the best swing plane for the particular pitch thrown. In watching many game videos from both my in-person and online clients, one of the most common reasons for my players’ struggles is that they start too late and feel rushed in their stride. This feeling of being rushed either causes the hitter to panic and slam their foot down or overuse their hands and arms to make contact. It may seem simple, but many in-game swing issues have been solved by simply telling players to start their movement early and and to move forward with a slow, calm tempo.
The idea of starting early may seem strange, especially to players who have issues with being consistently early. The key concept to understand is that starting early does not necessarily lead to landing early as long as the tempo of the hitter is rather slow. In fact, the late start often leads to early timing where the hitter doesn’t trust their stride or turn. In many of the examples below, you will see that the ball is actually very close to the hitter when their foot hits the ground. Click here to read Chas’ article explaining why getting the foot down early is not always a good coaching cue.
Pitching delivery, pitch speed, pitch type, pitch location, and turn speed are just a few of the variables that go into a hitter having good timing. As you can imagine, it is not easy or possible to always start your stride at the perfect time. Hitters instantly become more adjustable when they err on the early side of beginning their stride. The way I explain this to hitters is with a video game analogy. Being a former gamer myself, I played my fair share of sports games on PlayStation. When you wanted to run faster with a player, you would press the R2 button to make your player speed up. Unfortunately no turbo button exists in the swing so when a hitter starts too late, it is impossible for them to achieve their best movement and their best timing. However, there are multiple ways to slow down to adjust to an offspeed pitch or a fastball that was simply mis-timed.
When recognizing or feeling an early mistake in their timing, a hitter can delay by holding their leg in the air longer to land later. This adjustment is fairly intuitive and generally doesn’t even have to be taught. The second type of adjustment when early is much more difficult but can really set a hitter apart from their peers. This adjustment usually occurs when a hitter doesn’t recognize the pitch as an offspeed pitch until the last moment. At this moment, elite hitters are able to cushion their landing and delay their turn by sinking into their front leg and waiting to unleash their turn. This is a far better option than the alternative, which is to reach for the pitch resulting in a weak swing that is largely dominated by the arms and shoulders. Here is a recent video I received from a student hitting an offspeed pitch off the wall of a high school field as a rising freshman.
Click here to learn more about this type of adjustment from JK Whited. The fact that neither adjustment mentioned in this paragraph is even possible when a hitter starts their movement too late shows that starting too late is far more detrimental to a hitter’s success than starting too early.
In order to further illustrate this timing concept, I will use a few Major League players as examples. Here is a video of Oakland A’s outfielder Khris Davis.
While Davis is certainly explosive in his turn and has shown a great deal of power in his career, he is not nearly as adjustable as he could be. His late start and quick stride leave him very little room for error in his timing. Davis is known as a streaky hitter who is likely to hit for a fairly low average. I would love to see the effects of a slight change to Davis’ start time and stride tempo as he has the raw ability to be one of baseball’s premier hitters.
If you have followed Baseball Rebellion for long, you know that Jose Bautista is one of our favorite hitters. One of the reasons for this is that he absolutely crushes the ball with a relatively small frame. Bautista transformed his career from being an average Major Leaguer to being a perennial all-star and and MVP candidate beginning in 2010. What did he change? He simply started his movement earlier. Here is a quote from Bautista:
“I used to start when the pitcher would let go of the ball,” Bautista says. “His position would be like this” — he freezes his arm at a 90-degree angle, his wrist next to his ear — “and the ball would come out of his hand and I’d just be late. When the pitcher takes the ball out of his glove [now], I’m moving. I’ve got all this time to load. My top hand moves at the same rate as the pitcher is cocking his arm.”
While Bautista may have focused on his top hand, the reality is that he had a higher leg lift that began earlier and moved slower. In the video above, notice that Bautista is at the top of his leg lift well before the pitch is released. This simple but important change drastically changed Bautista’s career and life!
Above you will see Josh Donaldson (2015 MVP) utilizing a leg kick similar to Bautista. Notice that he is at the top of his leg kick well before the ball is released from the pitchers hand. This early start allows Donaldson time to perform his quality movements.
Carlos Gonzalez is yet another example of a great hitter starting his stride early so that he can move forward and transition smoothly into his turn.
Before you think that I am only picking players with big leg kicks, watch how Robinson Cano starts early and moves slowly but doesn’t utilize a giant leg kick. He slows his forward move by swaying backwards slightly before the ball is delivered. This move has the same effect as a leg kick in that it allows Cano to have a calm tempo and load that prepares his body to turn accurately and efficiently.
Last but not least we have Andrew McCutchen. He has the most simple stride style of the group but still moves forward at a calm pace by letting his body slowly move away from his back foot. This type of Body control is vital to McCutchen’s consistent success.
Regardless of your stride style starting early can be a very simple change that can lead to better timing, better movements, and more success. Thanks for reading!
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor
With the baseball / softball season now underway, the last month and a half has been a very exciting time for us here at Baseball Rebellion, as both our local and online clients have started competing all over the country. This is the time of the year when our students get to apply their training and see the benefits of their diligent offseason preparation. Many of our baseball and softball students are having a great start to the season which can serve as a confidence boost to continue their success through the rest of the season. Below, I’ve posted a few of our baseball and softball hitters early season, game swings that closely resemble their swings in in-person and online lessons.
While a large percentage of our hitters are finding success, there are some who have started out slow. For many of the hitters in this group, their struggles can’t be explained by a lack of preparation, practice time, or dedication. So, what can we attribute the slow start to? In order to answer this question, I’ll first present three of the most common statements we have heard from parents of struggling players.
All of the above statements reflect a feeling of panic that places pressure, fear, and doubt in the minds of hitters. This often results in a cycle that spirals into a season long slump. So how do we fight the pressure and doubt? Hitters, parents, and coaches should avoid hitting the panic button, ask intelligent, reflective questions about their swing, and remain as even keel as possible. Let’s dig deeper into each of the bold statements above and reason through each of them.
The cage swing isn’t translating to the game
Crowds, unfamiliar pitchers trying to get you out, holes in the batter’s box, umpires, and weather are all variables that are not generally accounted for in training. I am not making excuses for hitters but merely revealing that when comparing cage and game results, we are not exactly comparing apples to apples. For instance, some of our players routinely hit upwards of .600 during a HitTrax session at our facility. These same hitters will be very disappointed if they expect to replicate those results in a competition setting. Players, parents, and coaches should have reasonable expectations when they reflect on a hitter’s results and swings. I often tell my hitters that while we obviously want to take as many game swings as possible that resemble the way we practice, a certain percentage of swings are going to look and feel different. Many clients who are educated on swing mechanics are too quick to assume that there is a problem with their swing. When hitters do this, they often end up tinkering with their swing until it is almost unrecognizable. The first two things I look for when I watch video of our hitters are pitch selection and timing.
A hitter’s swing mechanics are slave to their timing and pitch selection.
Almost no one takes good swings at pitches significantly outside of the strike zone or when their timing is excessively early or late. Swing mechanics should only be identified as the main reason for failure when pitch selection and timing are good.
His/Her swing is just off
This statement is said out of general frustration with swings and misses or weakly hit balls but communicates defeat, hopelessness, and lack of confidence in the hitter. I constantly remind my players and parents that there is always a reason for swinging and missing. Most of the time, these reasons are extremely simple and come down to two easy questions:
1. Are you early or late?
2. Are you missing over the ball or under the ball?
If you are late, start your stride sooner. If you are early, start your stride later. If you are missing over the ball, lower your vision. If you are missing under the ball, raise your vision. How easy were those answers? I believe having easy, identifiable answers and cues empowers hitters to make positive changes that can dramatically impact their results and give them confidence that they have a degree of control over their own success.
We’re just not seeing the results
When hitters and/or parents begin focusing only on the statistical results rather than the process it takes to achieve sustainable, long term results, I know that they are beginning to panic. When I hear a statement similar to the one above, I often ask about timing, pitch selection, and quality of the swings. More often than not, I find out that the hitter is actually hitting the ball well, but right at the defenders. They tend to panic when they look at their batting average in a small sample size of games and forget that baseball and softball are games of odds and numbers that can be very erratic in the short term but almost always even out during the course of the season. Through the first six games of this 2016 season, Mike Trout was only hitting .200 with one double and zero home runs. Should he panic and totally change his swing? Of course not! Possibly due to the brevity of a Little League or high school season, some hitters do exactly that. Below is a MLB example that illustrates how a small sample size can be extremely misleading.
Anthony Rizzo had a tough 2015 Spring Training to say the least. He played in 20 games and finished with a .172 batting average, 2 home runs, and a .578 OPS. For many, this seems like an extended slump but most professionals probably couldn’t tell you any of their Spring Training stats. They see the first month of play as a time to see live pitching for the first time in four months and to begin implementing things they may have changed during the offseason. Rizzo’s early struggles seemed nonexistent during the 2015 regular season as he hit .278 with 31 home runs, and a .899 OPS in 160 games. Rizzo’s performance during the regular season is much more indicative of his talent and skill than the first twenty games. But, what if Rizzo had panicked after a tough Spring? He may have made unnecessary and potentially harmful changes to his swing.
If you began playing in games in March or April, your are right around the one month mark in your season. You likely have far less at bats than a player like Rizzo because he plays almost everyday. If you have struggled thus far, I want you to remember that you have plenty of time to turn it around since you are only 1/8th of the way through your baseball season (March – October)!
Below is some quick advice for players and parents respectively:
Players: If the start of the season hasn’t gone as planned, take a step back and remember the work you did in the offseason. What were the two or three major things that led to your most successful training sessions. Get back to focusing on those key components of your swing and be confident that things will turn around! Also, assess whether your timing and pitch selection has been sound before assuming your swing needs an overhaul.
Parents: If your kid takes baseball or softball seriously, they are already feeling a great deal of pressure from themselves. Don’t let their struggles and your desire for their success drive you into a panic. Kids sense this disappointment from their parents and often begin to play with a fear of failure mentality that ultimately leads to a lack of enjoyment and diminished results. Help your child understand that handling failure is an essential part of baseball and life. Kids can be challenged by their parents and coaches but need to know that their parents are supportive of them regardless of athletic performance.
Thanks for Reading!
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor
At Baseball Rebellion, we’re always looking for the best way to prove improvement to our players and their parents both in person and online. One of the ways we’ve done this in the past was with Stalker 2 Radar ball exit speed testing. Some of the hardest hitting players in the country train here, at I.T.S. Baseball, a little facility in Hillsborough, NC about 25 minutes away from Raleigh Durham International Airport. More and more, Radar Gun Ball Exit Speed Testing has come under fire as many times the instructor must either hold the gun or set up a tripod with the gun on it at a very low angle. Many times, the hitter can hit a ground ball or a line drive that’s about 4 feet off the ground and right back at the gun in front of them to get their best readings. The higher and more to the side of the cage you hit the ball, the slower the Stalker 2 gun reads the speed of the ball, and many of those higher and more pulled/pushed oppo hits are actually doubles and home runs. Many “twitter coaches” aren’t too keen on Radar Gun testing due to this fact, and honestly…they have a point.
To combat this problem, I recently purchased a HitTrax machine, which uses high speed cameras to track and analyze ball flight after impact. The HitTrax tells you ball exit speed, speed of the pitch, how far the ball will fly and how high you hit the ball (launch angle). So video analysis, like we do at Baseball Rebellion all the time, tells us about the player’s movements and now the HitTrax tells us tons about how the BALL reacted to impact of the bat. Knowing more data about ball flight was a missing piece of our hitting evaluation puzzle, which now that we have, it can tell us exactly how well a ball was really struck.
Mike Donfrancesco, the founder of HitTrax had this to say about our data logs:
“The data captured by the HitTrax System provides a quantitative and objective measurements of a players’ performance. Reports showing incoming pitch speed and outgoing exit velocity have an accuracy of +/- 1 mph RMS. The horizontal and vertical launch angle have been measured with an accuracy of +/- 1 degree RMS. Distance projections are calculated based on the exit velocity and vertical launch angle and has been found to be within +/- 5% of the actual distance traveled. The system at Rebellion Baseball was calibrated to within these specifications prior to capturing this data and the numbers and values within the charts and graphs have not been manipulated by Baseball Rebellion in any way.”
At Baseball Rebellion, the last thing we want to do is teach our players to hit ground balls and low line drive singles up the middle over and over. Baseball Rebellion hitters are GREEDY and want to do DAMAGE during their at bats, with extra base hits off and over the wall! That’s why many people, from all over the country, fly here for in person training and hire us for online hitting lessons. One of those player’s Hittrax data will be used here to illustrate the awesome power of both the Hittrax and how changing movement totally changes the results and ceiling of a baseball or softball hitter.
This is “Eric” a player who has played a long time in professional baseball and multiple MLB seasons. Here are some of his numbers/HitTrax Data directly from the Hittrax reports, which the machine generates. Each of the 3 reports below were all taken from his hitting session on 2/10/2016 at 1:49 pm. The only modification on any of these reports is the removal of “Eric’s” real name. NOTE: if you don’t want to read all the charts yourself…scroll down below the three charts and watch the VIDEO where I explain what they all mean.
Now I realize that’s a lot of charts and stats all in a row, so click this short video below and i’ll explain what they mean quickly. You can go back and re-visit their main points if you’d like to compare and contrast his ‘after’ charts.
Man…that was a lot of data…I can feel myself getting dorkier already……..but I can also feel myself becoming a better hitting coach for my athletes. After seeing this data and realizing that Eric was hitting mostly singles, which severely limits his long term value to any club, we talked more about elevating the baseball and maintaining his velocity as the baseball was hit higher. Eric knew he had to not only hit the baseball higher, but HARDER as well, as his farthest balls were easily caught by outfielders. So…we went to work.
From about 2:00 to 4:10 or so, we did lots of movement work. Some Rebel’s Rack Resisted Turns, some Rebel’s Rack Accelerated Turns, as well as posture work with a dowel rod. I wrote a lot about a hitter’s posture and how certain posture mistakes can restrict a player’s turn quality and speed. (CLICK HERE to read part 1 of my hitting posture article, CLICK HERE to read part 2 of my hitting posture article). Now when I say we did these moves for 2 hours…I mean it. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of Rebel’s Rack and dowel moves in the mirror as well as with resistance. Also, we threw med balls into our med ball net. KC, our director of athletic performance, is writing an article about the rotational power improvement properties of specific medicine ball training for baseball and softball hitters next week, so look for it!
Below, you can see his new hitting charts, taken 2/10/16 at 4:44 PM. Again, there is a video explanation below if you’d like to just scroll to it.
Here’s a quick video talking about his improvement and what you need to know about his 2nd hitting session vs his 1st hitting session.
That’s quite the improvement in just roughly 2 hours of training with Baseball Rebellion’s movements and drills.
Obviously, “Eric” was very happy with those results and has continued his Baseball Rebellion training and swing mechanics into spring training. Leading to his best spring as a professional. I’m excited about his progress and career going forward, and he is as well.
None of this detailed hitting information is trackable without a HitTrax. Now that we have one at Baseball Rebellion, It’s already hard to imagine what doing in person lessons were like before we got one. There’s so much you can teach baseball / softball parents, players, and coaches about the VALUE of certain hits, that just hitting in a cage or even out on a field cannot do. I’ve only been using the HitTrax for about 2 months, but it has already been an absolute game changer for us as hitting instructors. Our professional and collegiate hitters love it, because we can chart their progress and show them that their Baseball Rebellion swing training is ACTUALLY working! We can also show young kids we know if they’re swinging ‘hard’ or not, which makes HitTrax a phenomenal ‘effort and performance evaluator’ said one of our parents of an 11 year old boy. In short, the HitTrax allows us to PROVE the IMPROVEMENT of our baseball and softball hitters while other instructors, here or anywhere in the World, that don’t use the HitTrax data, simply cannot.
Now, if you don’t have a HitTrax to measure the ball flight/speed, how do you know you’re improving? Well I’d say: HitTrax is just a measurement tool. If you do the same movements, (NOT “HITTING” DRILLS), that we had “Eric” and all of our clients do, then it’s safe to infer that your hitter will improve as well. With the amount of training Baseball Rebellion has done both online and in person, the variable tends to be more the student, and less the program. We KNOW that The Rebel’s Rack makes people turn faster and with more power (also in partner with The Drive Developer). We KNOW the dowel rod movements we give our in person and Baseball Rebellion Online Hitting Lesson clients make the body move more efficiently through the swing motion. We KNOW that med ball throws translate to more hitting power, better accuracy, and increased barrel acceleration. Our baseball and softball hitters prove it every single day. I know I enjoyed the process of writing this article, and I hope that you enjoy reading it and find the data both enlightening, and encouraging if you’re a part of the Baseball Rebellion. If you’re not, I’d ask you to consider asking your instructor some questions about what the instructor is teaching, why he/she is teaching it, as well as what the instructor measures and how he/she measures it. I hope the answers are good. I hope the answers make sense. Just make sure the plan works and can REALLY improve your hitter. Make sure your money and time is valued and your son or daughter is getting instruction that’s trackable and measurable over time and that scales to the level of play and the goals of your hitter.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
P.S. here is what Mike Donfrancesco of HitTrax said of our case study and results after he analyzed it himself:
“The measurements recorded during the second session show a significant improvement in all measured and projected metrics. First off, the average and max exit ball velocities have increased by 7.5 mph and 4.7 mph, respectively. This had a direct result in the maximum distance, which increased from 325 ft in the first session to 381 ft in the second session. The player was also able to increase his HHA from the 16.4% recorded in the first session to a more consistent 67.9% in the second session
The LA vs. exit velo chart generate for the second session also indicates a vast improvement as well. In the first session the player’s line drives (10-20 degrees) were averaging at just about 90 mph while these velocities jumped up to ~97 mph during the second session. Furthermore, the exit velos recorded in the 20-35 degree range increased by 8 to 10 mph. As a result, the SLG% increased from .623 to 1.358 during the second session thus proving that hitting the ball harder at the right launch angles produces positive outcomes.
Chas, what you and your staff did with Eric is VERY impressive in a span of only 3 hours…Quite remarkable and not the norm at all…Nicely done!!”
Whenever Major League hitters come up in conversation with students, parents, or other coaches, the following question often arises: How do many of the best hitters in the world only focus on their hands, yet hit so well? This is a question that I have thought a lot about and wanted to write an article sharing my thoughts. Below are two links of Albert Pujols and Reggie Jackson talking about hitting.
If you've read Baseball Rebellion's content, you know that we disagree with a lot in the videos above. Both Pujols and Jackson demonstrated downward swing paths and did not emphasize the hips, core, or legs. That being said, I'm not writing this article to bash Albert Pujols or Reggie Jackson. I want to explore what parts of their thoughts actually help them and allow them to be successful enough to be two of the best hitters in baseball's history. Watch the video below as I describe what happens in the Major League swing and give away a free concept that explains how high level hitters use the knob of the bat as a timing mechanism for the release of the barrel.
As I mentioned in the video above, MLB hitters are athletes. The reaction time required by these hitters in game situations is amazing. This is especially true when they are facing pitchers who can throw this...
Due to the speed at which the successful game swing must happen, most hitters can't feel and think their way through their swing. What many hitters can feel is their hands manipulating the knob and barrel of the bat. Part of the reason for this is that we constantly use our hands for practically everything and are used to being in tune with where they are in space. While there are vital movements happening in the lower half, even those who really understand their swing say that they struggle when trying to think about all of the moving parts in the box. These hitters learn how to move using mirror work, front toss, and maybe BP but have to trust their movement to show up when the lights come on. Whether pro hitters individually understand their swing or not, every high level hitter achieves some level of hip and shoulder separation in games. They also reach similar positions at and prior to contact with their upper body mechanics. Let's go back to the Pujols and Jackson clips and explain what they may be thinking and how that translates to what they are actually doing.
As I stated earlier, every successful hitter achieves hip and shoulder separation in their swing. This simply means that the hips and legs lead the upper body. Below are two pictures of Pujols and Jackson in this separated position. Both hitters lack of emphasis on this position (when demonstrating) leads me to believe that it is not something they actively think about. I believe that their body does this subconsciously to create the speed and force necessary to be successful against high level pitching. This is the point in the swing where I believe hitters start feeling their hands move to direct the knob and barrel.
Bat lag occurs when the hitter turns so that the knob is facing the pitcher while the tip of the bat faces the catcher. It is the moment just prior to the barrel being released away from the back shoulder. The timing of the bat lag position should change slightly based on the location of the pitch. The more outside the pitch, the earlier in the swing the barrel should be released from the shoulder. The more inside the pitch, the later the barrel should be released from the shoulder. The transition from separation to bat lag is where I think most hitters can feel their hands work to direct the knob and barrel accurately to or inside the ball. It is highly important that hitters continue turning the hips and shoulders as they get into bat lag. Both Pujols and Jackson fail to do this in their demonstrations but succeed in their game swings. While I don't think that Pujols and Jackson's demonstrations are very accurate, it is valuable to notice that their thoughts on upper body mechanics lead them to great upper body positions in games. While we generally avoid using many of the terms used by Pujols and Jackson, some of their mental cues like taking the knob inside the ball can be good for certain players as long as they happen in the correct sequence and are blended with a powerful lower half turn. For instance, the knob inside the ball cue can help hitters get into a proper bat lag position. The ability to do this can help eliminate bat drag which is a big issue in many youth players. Other cues like swing down to the ball bring little to no value.
From the bat lag position to contact, the hips and shoulders continue to turn but the main goal is to release the barrel away from the shoulder up in the way of the incoming pitch. This is where many hitters feel their wrists snap the barrel. While both Pujols and Jackson demonstrate downward swing paths, their game swings are definitely upward. Notice how there is a slightly downhill line where the hands are slightly below the front forearm, and the barrel is slightly below the hands. Using the wrists to snap the barrel is a key part of transferring the energy already created but should not be understood as a energy creation move during the swing.
Remember in the Reggie Jackson video above, when he referenced Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera as going "straight" a.k.a. down to the baseball? At further inspection, they clearly swing up in the way of the ball. That being said Bonds and Cabrera are also known for thinking a lot about their hands but create separation, bat lag and a great contact position. Below I have put gifs of Bonds and Cabrera as well as pictures of them at each position previously mentioned.
We always want to teach the best and most accurate information but it is important to understand what a hitter may have to feel to achieve their best results. Over the past couple of months I have begun encouraging some of my hitters to key in on what their hands are doing in order to fix issues like bat drag. At times I have had to tell them to feel like they are driving the knob forward to see real changes. I always make sure that they understand what should happen (or what is actually happening) when it contradicts what they feel in their movements. As coaches we must take into account what cues work for hitters with varying swing problems instead of generically saying the same phrases to every hitter. When learning or teaching the upper body movements (or lower body movements for that matter), we must remember this end goal: To create maximal force while maintaining accuracy by getting the sweet spot of the bat in the way of the incoming pitch and keeping it there for as long as possible. Neither power nor accuracy is valuable without the other.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!
Gabe Dimock - Baseball Rebellion Certified Instructor