- BR Premium
- My Account
The concept of “Feeding the mistake” is not a new one in physical therapy or weight lifting. Most of the time, when an athlete repeats a movement mistake over and over they usually cannot feel the problem. If an athete cannot feel the issue, they cannot fix the issue. In order to force them to correct the issue, the coach purposfully makes the mistake worse. Now, after 'feeding the mistake', athletes can feel and then correct the problem. A great example is a squat movement where the knees of the athlete push inward towards each other as the athlete pushes the weight upward.
In order to correct this issue,many novice coaches would 'fix' this issue by putting a yoga block or cut off foam roller between the knees. The foam roller would prevent the knees from coming in towards each other as you see above. However, this 'fix' doesn't really fix the issue. The athlete can now push his knees in as hard as they want against the foam roller and the knees are blocked. A more common ‘fix’ among strength and conditioning professionals would be putting the athlete’s knees inside a band which pulls the knees closer together. This force allows the athlete to feel the problem and then correct it by resisting the force of the band as you will see below. That's the real difference between 'fixing a problem' and 'feeding the mistake' so the athlete can fix the problem themselves.
Now, how does this apply to the baseball/softball swing? Feeding the mistakes applies in exactly the same way in baseball and softball! Lets take a look at the Rebel’s Rack and Bat Drag Buster. Both products force the hitter to exert specific force with specific intention and create the feel that coaches need hitters to understand in order to build an efficient turn or eliminate bat drag.
The Rebel’s Rack activates the lat muscle and the back of the shoulder/scap muscle structure to help the athlete ‘pull back on the rack’ and resist their rotation.
A common, and inferior, alternative to the Rebel’s Rack is a dowel rod held across the chest. As you can see, the Rack activates the upper back and the retraction of the shoulder blades while the dowel rod does the exact opposite and rounds the shoulders making a delay of rotation impossible.
The Bat Drag Buster pulls the elbows together with the white band and makes the athlete keep their elbows apart allowing the barrel to turn back behind them and eliminating bat drag. When not using the white band of the BDB, you can see the hitter is likely to collapse the back elbow as they cannot feel that happen inside of the turn.
When the elbow outraces the hands, you can see how the space is lost between the elbows. The back elbow gets stuck between the stomach of the hitter and home plate which creates a long path and a hole up and in on the hitter's swing. The Bat Drag Buster eliminates this problem by trying to cause the back elbow to race forward. Hitters naturally resist that force, so they maintain space and turn much more efficiently and powerfully.
The ideas behind Fixing the Mistake are not revolutionary. And even better, the concept of feeding the mistake is simple and easily usable for coaches of all levels. Don’t FIX the mistake for the player, allow the player to FEEL the mistake and fix it himself. Consider a Complete Rotational Power Package or a Bat Drag Buster and make your job as a coach so much easier! Eliminate the frustration of plateaus in power and exit velocity and start creating that super deep barrel turn today!
One of my favorite movies of all time is an old golf movie, “Tin Cup”. In the movie, golf instructor Roy McAvoy is struggling to find his swing days before the biggest tournament of his life. He resorts to a contraption of a golf device to find his once sweet swing. If you have been around Baseball/Softball long enough, you’ve seen many devices very similar to this that guarantee results...
I played with a Baseball Rebellion trained hitter on a collegiate wood bat summer league team. I noticed that every day before batting practice he had this crazy looking red bar that he would spin around on. That’s how I saw it. I thought it was just some gimmick device that didn't help. Yet every night the lineup was posted, who do you think was hitting 3rd? That limited engagement and youthful ignorance is how I saw the Rebels Rack, until I got the opportunity to see it in action every single day.
In my 13 months at BR, I have seen this once crazy red bar, improve the turn speed of every single hitter in our building. And every single hitter is not an exaggeration. Since working here, every first time client has shown improvement by using the rack. I remember asking, “What else is there to this?” and the answer is nothing.
The rack gives the hitter no choice but to learn to turn their body faster. The faster the hitter is able to rotate their body, the faster the bat moves. The faster the bat moves, the more opportunities they give themselves as a hitter. Rotational speed is a skill that must be learned and continuously trained. We do that using the rack. One question we always get is, “well I can just use a dowel rod or PVC pipe, right?”. These two devices can bring some of the same benefits as far as rotation. However, what they don't offer is the posture training involved with the rack. Because of the shape of the rack and the requirement of the player to pull back on the rack to hold it, they are training to maintain good posture without knowing it.
We all know there's more to hitting than just speed. So how does the Rack help in other aspects of hitting? By using the rack you are able to move and rotate your body into optimal positions without the constraint and worry of hitting well. Whether it is a stride, posture, side-bend, or balance issue, it can be addressed by using the rack.
We are able to teach our hitters to get into the same elite positions that the best hitters in the world do through our Rebel's Rack work. The difference is we can do it at a full rotational speed, which translates quicker, and more efficient than walking through the process.
Every hitter wants their training to involve hitting. They want to see that what they're doing is improving actually hitting the ball. So how do we adopt the Rack to be more inclusive to this? We have created the Rack Bat. The Rack Bat allows the hitter to feel the speed of their turn while matching their posture and side bend according to pitch location. This creation gives hitters the ability to improve the speed and accuracy of their turn, while performing the task of hitting an object.
Some of you may read this article and still see the Rebels Rack as a gimmick, and that’s fine. I thought so at first as well. And then I saw it take a college team from 14 home runs in an entire season to 368 the last 3 combined. I’ve seen it work with youth, middle school, high school, college, professional, softball, slow pitch, senior league, golfers, and even cricket players. Rotational speed is a trained skill. Train it or get left behind.
To see more drills with the Rebel's Rack, click here.
On January 5th, Baseball Rebellion's Chas Pippitt and Tyler Zupcic spoke at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention in Dallas, TX. In the presentation, Baseball Rebellion highlights how we prove improvement of our hitters with the ball tracking system HitTrax.
Using HitTrax we are able to track, store, and export data instantly. Because of this, we are able to share this information with hitters, coaches, and parents and show them their improvement and help them Raise their Ceilings as hitters!
Here is the full presentation:
We would love to connect and answer questions about our presentation with ANYONE! We want to help share our knowledge of HitTrax with you.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments about our presentation.
Disclaimer: Benny R. (@BatCaveHitting) is a customer of Baseball Rebellion's hitting products. He performed this study on his own and was not directed/instructed by Baseball Rebellion in any way to do this study. After seeing Benny's tweet out (seen below) his results online, we asked if he would write a brief summary of his training for our website. THE FOLLOWING CASE STUDY IS BY BENNY R. A BASEBALL REBELLION CUSTOMER
At 39 yrs old decided I wanted to learn how to hit the ball far. So I armed myself with a #rebelsrack , a #LaunchAngleTee adapter and #hittraxbaseball and started learning how to turn. So far these are the results. pic.twitter.com/HFwuS4vmkV
— BatCaveResearchLab (@batcavehitting) May 20, 2018
In October 2017, I got to the realization that all the hitting coaching cues my 10-year-old son was receiving were the same cues that were taught to me at his age: swing down, just make contact, hit the ball into the ground. He was receiving so much step-by-step mechanical instructions that he was freezing at the plate. Being an engineering professor with amateur baseball experience and due to the fact that my son likes performing experiments, we decided that performing experiments would be a good way for him to work on his hitting and track the changes he needed to implement in order for him to hit the ball hard, over the infielders head.
The main problem from my side was that at 39 yrs old, I’m a 5’9” 160 lbs lefty hitter. Therefore, you can imagine that when I was a kid, I was taught to hit the ball into the ground or hit low line drives into the holes left open by the infielders. Even more, from the age of 18 yrs old to 38 yrs old (last time I played baseball), I only hit the ball over the fence once. Now at 39 yrs old, I had to learn/understand how to hit the ball hard and far in order to help my 10 yrs old (5’0” and 100 lbs) develop the necessary skills to hit the ball hard into the outfield gap.
After performing some research, experiments, and looking at various tools, we started to use the Launch Angle Tee Adapter to work on learning to hit the ball at better launch angles. The table below shows my average launch angle when using a regular tee vs. the Launch Angle Tee Adapter during tee work.
|Average Launch Angle|
|Regular Tee||20.7 degrees|
|Launch Angle Tee Adapter||28.3 degrees|
The average launch angle was higher with the Launch Angle Tee Adapter, however, more importantly being able to see more of the ball helped eliminate the barrier of hitting the tee which allows us to work on hitting the ball consistently hard. The image below was from an experiment that my son and I performed to see how he would happen if he used the Launch Angle Tee adapter versus a regular tee. In the pictures below, the red dots represent the location of balls hit off a regular tee and the green dots represent those taken off the Launch Angle Tee adapter.
In our experience, what happened in that experiment can be summarized as follows; the Launch Angle Tee Adapter helped improve the average ball launch angle and he was hitting the ball in a more consistent manner while reducing the number of ground balls hit.
Once I was able to learn/understand how to hit the ball with a better launch angle, it was time to learn how to hit the ball hard. Now the focus was on how to create more ball exit speed while being able to maintain that average launch angle. After looking at different options, I decided to try the Rebel’s Rack, since it had a lot of drills and resources available to use. Based on the resources available at Baseball Rebellion, here is the daily movement routine that I started to follow when trying to learn (or reprogram myself) to hit the ball harder and farther using the Rebel’s Rack.
|Warm-up Turns||2 minutes|
|Hesitation Stride, Show & Go||4 minutes (2 min/side)|
|Resisted Turns||2 minutes (1 min/side)|
|Accelerated Turns||2 minutes (1 min/side)|
|Timing Drill||20 pitches (only on hitting days)|
Below is the summary of the improvements/results obtained so far by using the Rebel’s Rack. These measurements were obtained using HitTrax.
|Date||Avg. Velocity (MPH)||Max. Velocity (MPH)||Max. Distance (Feet)||LD %||FB %||GB %||Comment|
|4/29/2018||81.1||90.9||353||49||40||11||1st session after Rebel’s Rack|
It can be observed that the first hitting session after starting to use the Rebel’s Rack, there was an improvement in distance of 17 feet and maximum velocity of 2 mph. Overall, as of May 19th, the gains have now reached almost 30 feet in distance and 7 mph of maximum velocity. Also, it can be noticed that the ground ball percentage has gone down and stayed consistently down.
As it can be seen from the HitTrax data, the Rebel’s Rack in combination with the Launch Angle Tee Adapter have helped me achieve better and more consistent movement quality and therefore helped me improve my power as a hitter. Now I’m more confident that I can use the things that I have learned to help my son and other hitters develop into more consistent and powerful hitters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 what's inside your body already…the fastest turns you’ve ever experienced!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
When an 8 year old walks into Baseball Rebellion for a hitting or throwing evaluation, the process is simple and the same every single time. First, we let the player warm themselves up how they 'normally do', then they are evaluated in their skill. The instructor videos each player, sometimes from multiple angles, puts on the Hittrax or Rapsodo, and then a comparison occurs between them and someone their age and size and the video and metrics their swings or throwing mechanics delivered. Normally, we find some pretty significant swing problems from bat drag, to bad footwork, to closing their eyes during the swing or pitch (which is much more common than you think). Thousands of amateur baseball and softball players have been through this process, and due to their age and the fact that they pay to play instead of getting paid to play, its assumed there are things we can find and fix to elevate their game. No instructor would assume an 8-year-old is an 'expert', because obviously, they are not.
Now, what happens when a MiLB, MLB or high-level college baseball player walks in? What if an All-American Softball player comes through the door? What if a possible softball Olympian comes in? What happens now? In most facilities around the country, there is an assumption that a high-level player is already an expert. What generally happens is the player just uses the facility. An instructor throws them BP or they use the pitching lane to throw their bullpens. Some of these professional-level players go back to colleges that they either attended or live near and just go hit or throw and lift amongst themselves. This relationship happens for 2 reasons:
At Baseball Rebellion, we do NOT assume a player is an expert when they walk in the door regardless of their past accomplishments or current playing status. This allows us to take a fresh look at each athlete as they enter our program and run them through our entire process of intake. Exactly as the 8-year-old we referenced earlier in the article, the player will warm up his/her way. Perform their skill in front of an instructor, be measured using Hittrax or Rapsodo, and then be videoed from multiple angles. The elite player now goes into a video room where their metrics and video are broken down vs players of similar skill levels and size. Now, here's where the difference lies between the 8-year-old and the high-level player. The 8-year-old does not have much track record of success while the high-level player (HLP) does. The HLP is usually much more reluctant to change their actual swing. They should be reluctant and skeptical of people offering 'advice', especially if it costs money. These players are the ones with the careers, the ones who throw the pitches, swing the bats. These players are the 'men in the arena' and they have to perform.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Baseball Rebellion instructors are much closer to movement improvement specialists than baseball coaches. Yes, we played the game, and we coach skill specific training to improve game performance. But HOW we do it is drastically different when compared to what most players are expecting. And, once they allow themselves to try the movements, they realize their swings and throwing mechanics aren't being changed...the player's understanding of creating and exerting force, and therefore how to execute force production the best way for them, is what's changing. Baseball Rebellion instructors can literally tell a hitter or pitcher 'we're not going to change your mechanics, we're going to show you how to improve your rotational speed and power or simply show you a few movement drills to do before you throw or hit'. Then, the player throws or hits from their exact same stance, setup, stride or delivery that they had before.
The player's movements inside of their own swing or delivery changes. Their bodies absorb the movements perfected away from their specific skill...and feed off the new speed and power. Yes, their swing or pitching delivery has changed...but the athlete's body CHOSE the change. The HLP was not manipulated by drills during their training or forced to 'swing or throw' a different way. IF an instructor can show an athlete a faster way or a more efficient way, the BODY of the athlete will want it and want it, over and over.
None of this discovery can happen if the High-Level Athlete is assumed to be an expert. Dave Shinskie just wrote an article, you can find it here, where he mentions 'Unconscious Competence' which is where many athletes live their playing careers. The goal of instructors working with HLP's should be to get them over to 'Flow'. Build movements that keep their athletes clear-minded, calm and trusting in their own processes. And much like the Katas I referenced in my last article, these movement progressions help build a movement solution that is, in itself, adaptable.
A great example of this adaptable movement quality is Ronnie Dawson. Here is his initial intake video and his HitTrax numbers that he generated with his swing and no Baseball Rebellion Turn Training at all.
Obviously, Ronnie is a former Big-10 Player of the year, a high draft pick, and someone with obvious athletic gifts. Hitting the ball 100mph is not surprising at an evaluation. What IS surprising is how much velocity and distance he added after our Turn Training and no other drilling or changes whatsoever to his swing. Ronnie's evaluation video and baseline numbers were taken on 1/18/18 at 12:28 pm. Here are his 'post-turn work' session details, taken at 2:03 pm 1/18/18. Notice the date and time of these two sessions in relation to each other, less than 2 hours have passed, and the results of the work are stunning. Ronnie made gains of 5 mph in exit velocity and 102 feet in distance gains. He pulled more balls, and drove balls high in the air at high exit velocities.
Now here is Ronnie's Video from a few days later, we did not video his 2:00 session on the 18th. As you can see and hear, he's very happy with what he's worked on.
What you're seeing above is real turn driven adjustability. I'm throwing him fastballs, curves, and changeups and he doesn't know what's coming...and it doesn't matter. (Ronnie also said that "You have the best BP curveball I've ever seen." which was kinda cool as well.) He knows the feeling of being 'able to turn whenever he wants', again, his words not mine. And now, after dominating in the spring he's never been more excited about the possibilities of this upcoming season. You can follow Ronnie's progress HERE and watch as his numbers develop over time.
While we do not assume high-level players are experts, we also approach them with an ample amount of respect for their unique abilities. Ronnie, like most pros, didn't need to be 'fixed'. Ronnie needed help finding a faster solution to the problem of hitting in games. Mentally, Ronnie has a much improved approach to how he trains. He can go back to movement rules of how the body rotates and generates power instead of anecdotal 'evidence' about how someone else 'felt' when they hit years before. Ronnie can head to his hotel, do a few minutes of movement, and maintain his body strength and mobility and energy much easier than if he headed to the cage to hit dozens of balls after a game. Learning to Turn appears to be a turning point in Ronnie's career. He can elevate more balls to all fields and has developed the pull power the Astros wanted him to find. Listen to more of Ronnie Dawson here on the Baseball Rebellion Podcast.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
Just for fun, he's another video of Ronnie on his last day here of his 2nd visit. Again, he does not know what's coming...Yikes.
EXIT VELOCITY is quite the buzz-worthy topic these days. Just as pitchers have gone through the unrelenting quest to increase their throwing velocity, hitters are doing the same thing with bat speed and batted ball exit velocity. These revolutions are happening for good reason…more velocity on the mound or in the batter’s box gives a player more chances to be successful.
There are plenty of ways to build exit velocity in hitters. Hitting coaches from all over favor techniques like lifting tons of weights, hitting weighted balls, swinging bats of different loads and lengths, CNS training…you name it, it’s on #hittingtwitter and freely on display.
First, let me be clear, I’m not here to tell you that I’ve researched EVERY SINGLE TYPE of Exit Velocity Development Program out there. I haven’t. What I am telling you is that we at Baseball Rebellion lean on different principles in our development. Everything at Baseball Rebellion is based on principles of human movement. Those principles, like how a normal healthy knee flexes and extends, are not up for debate. Therefore, we use these movement facts to cue and coach and athlete into positions that generally result in optimal movement quality for normal and healthy people. Similar to how martial arts has used the practice of Katas, (detailed choreographed patterns of movements, used for centuries to develop disciplined quality fighters, practiced either solo or in pairs to build muscle memory in martial artists) we use similar rhythmic movement patterning in our coaching of hitters on a daily basis. The Katas were performed over and over to ensure the effortless use of the movements in the field of battle or in a fight. Here is longtime UFC champion fighter Georges St. Pierre using a Kata in his open workout before his UFC 129 bout.
Now, before everyone reading this has a conniption fit about the Central Nervous System solving problems and constraints, allow me to frame our movement improvement ideas first on improving turn speed within the body and therefore Exit Velocity with the batted ball. We at Baseball Rebellion believe most, if not all hitters, come into our doors with many misconceptions about how to turn their body to generate power. Most have been over-coached to incorrectly use their arms to hit the ball, but some, even with no coaching at all, have many movement issues inside their swings (turns) that prevent them from exhibiting maximum force or adjustability. Even our MLB and MiLB clients who were highly drafted or have years of service time benefit from the ‘katas” we teach to help them learn to turn. Then, once that is finished, their bodies naturally use the new speed and new movement ideas within their natural patterns.
Here is a video of some novice martial artists who are in need of some different movement solutions…
These ‘martial artists’ are clearly giving it their best attempts at their ‘karate moves’ but much like many of our baseball/softball athletes, he does not have an efficient or powerful movement solution within his required sport. These novice fighters in the previous video have no chance of finding their own ‘movement solutions’ to moving like a martial artist in any type of efficient timeline. When someone hires a paid instructor to train their hitter, or themselves, in a skill…they expect results in a quantifiable and time efficient manner. We must, as full-time instructors, spend the time to gain an informational advantage over the coaches or teachers they get at their little league or school-ball practices so that we can achieve results that are both better and faster than the methods already available to them. This does NOT include just asking them to ‘hit the ball harder or higher’ and bombarding them with gimmicky drills or bats covered in tape. Later in the process, once the athlete has a turn solution that makes sense; weighted balls, bats, varying constraints can have a lot of use and success, but before the hitter’s movement quality has been built, it’s just unethical.
Basically our theory is this: IF a hitter comes into the program, after their initial evaluation and their testing, and they clearly do NOT have a workable movement solution to hitting the ball harder and movement effectively and efficiently while attempting to hit the ball hard, than we have to build that movement pattern solution for them. Initially, this looks like the movement progression article we put out a few weeks back: The Movements That Made the Rebellion. From a mastered Rebel’s Rack Turn, the athlete will naturally modify their learned pattern of hitting into something that is faster and more powerful within their own stance, hand set, and swing. For example, hitters may have toe taps, high hands, leg kicks, small short strides or early leg lifts with a hang in our program. As long as they can time their turn and execute a fast rotational move, they’re in their own ‘optimal pattern’ within the confines of actually hitting a moving ball.
Another way we look at movement is through the eyes of a strength or speed coach. For instance, let’s pretend this lifter walked into our ‘gym’ and this is how they squatted in their movement screen.
If a novice lifter attempts bodyweight squat with this type of technique…would ANY strength coach let them LOAD that lifting technique with weight? I am sure SOMEONE out there would…but the vast majority would answer that “NO!” Any strength coach, with any sort of experience, would not allow that type of lifting technique to be under a bar with any weight on it what so ever. Loading that horrible squat technique is very likely to end up with this type of outcome…
Obviously, it is not any coach’s intent to hurt an athlete. That being said, loading the inefficient and weak swing or throwing motion of a delivery with either underspend or overspend instruments is not only dangerous it is often times negligent. Loading bad patterns in any sport or athletic activity may slow not only the short-term development of the player over time but can put an artificial technical ceiling on the player that limits the altitude of their careers.
Why is baseball/softball hitting training different? Why would a parent or pro baseball/softball client want to load a faulty pattern? Can you get some Exit Velocity gains? Of course, you can! But now, after your premature weighted bat or ball training, the hitter is just swinging POORLY, FASTER. Bat speed is good, obviously increasing bat speed and exit velocity is better than not increasing those metrics. But we want to do these drills in ways that make sense. Learn a correct pattern that works, then load it! Again, going back to the Movements that Made the Rebellion article, you can see that we train the movement OUTSIDE of the actual discipline of hitting. That allows the athlete to re-pattern their turn speed and distance internally so when their goals change (hitting a double, moving a runner, driving the ball with a 2 – 0 count) they’re able to utilize their subconscious mind to achieve the turn, and hopefully the desired result. Internal cues are given frequently, in short bursts, during the movement to direct specific focus to areas that need improvement. This internal cuing can happen by demonstration accompanied by verbals as well as manual instruction or help from the instructor as well.
Once the turn is learned through our Rebel’s Rack progression, we load it and then we speed it up. Here is exactly HOW we load and speed up the turn to increase exit velocity when hitting.
We usually add a hesitation move in the assisted turns first to really emphasize the need to drive down into the ground with your front heel to help drive the front hip back into the rotation. This also helps in stopping the face from moving forward during rotation.
From here, we have now strengthened and trained the faster turn process of the body and we are ready to hit. Sometimes we use the rack for timing drills as well inside the cage with a moving ball but no bat (see video below). These are more stable environments where verbal internal cues like “Open your pelvis without opening your shoulders” are vital for skill acquisition. Once these skills are acquired and the faster turn has been patterned, then the athlete is put in a less stable environment where cuing is less frequent, less verbal, less internal and more results or outcome focused. For example: “Turn your hips sooner” is the cue we would use during rack movement, while during hitting, Baseball Rebellion instructors may say “Pull the ball into the gap”. Both are used. Both work. But we have found much more success when using internal cues FIRST to build and acquire skill and THEN external cues in support of those cues after to develop in-game performance and retention.
Recently, I had a conversation with Robert Butler, DPT who now works with the St Louis Cardinals. He referenced Motor Control and Learning, A Behavioral Emphasis a textbook from his Movement Sciences 600 level class he taught at Duke University. Robert, and the research inside the book, talked a lot about internal cues as needed for skill acquisition and learning in the first phases of skill development and then external cues as the keys to continue the execution phase of the skills within varied environments or games. It was good to hear someone with a doctoral level of motor learning and motor control talk to me about the HOW skills are first learned in a vacuum, and then transferred to the chaos of the ever-changing game environment. Too many coaches in hitting are skipping the verbal cues needed in the acquisition phase of learning and jumping right into the adaptive phase of in-game use. At Baseball Rebellion and Softball Rebellion, we think that teaching the adaptive LOAD phase before the acquisition LEARNING phase is a mistake. Consider that before your next weighted bat or weighted ball session…do you really have the technical proficiency to load your movement or do you need to go back and acquire more movement acquits?
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
P.S. We created the Rebel’s Rack to help teach rotational power, which directly correlates with increased exit velocity! Buy your Rebel’s Rack today and get the drills that will help you BOOST your POWER at the plate!
This week Dave and JK get into a discussion about consistent positivity in a players life from the people that are around them most. Following the discussion, they guys interview Baseball/Softball Rebellion owner Chas Pippitt in his latest article that blew the doors off the BR vault. They find out what made him want make that information public and how the response has been. Thanks for listening!
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!!”
I talk to many coaches, all over the country, on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. One of my favorite coaches (we will call him “Eric” which is not his real name) texted me today. Here’s some of our conversation, that I think illustrates a lot of confusion and frustration in the social interaction within the hitting community over what is expected by the coaches themselves, the parents of the players, and the players taking the lessons.
So there’s a lot to digest in those first few comments. First, Eric talked about what most hitting coaches do and what he does, then he painted the common perception of me / Baseball Rebellion Instructors as ‘starting from scratch’ with our ideas and building the swing from the ground up. As you can see based on my response, in our initial phases of working with professional athletes (and all athletes for that matter) we rarely actually HIT. We allow the athlete to really understand and learn a higher quality movement pattern that supports an explosive turn, so that the athlete’s body chooses this optimal movement automatically once player begins to hit again.
Eric then went on to talk about his own issues with the Rebel’s Rack and his feelings on how his players use the Rebel’s Rack. He said:
Again, lots to see here and think about. Lots of coaches I talk to greatly overcomplicate things. Shoot, you can find 5000 word articles about every tiny little movement a professional hitter makes. Those articles have their place, and I’ve even written a few hyper-technical articles in the past. But I know that’s not how athletes learn and writing articles like that is the most sure fire way to confuse dad’s and mom’s everywhere who are just looking for a few correct and actionable coaching points to help their child hit better. Baseball Rebellion isn’t about ‘simplifying’ the baseball swing…baseball campifying it into “7 steps of hitting”….CUE THE WORST HITTING VIDEO EVER…
Yikes…We’re about simplifying how the complicated and explosive hitting sequence is Taught by Coaches and Learned by Athletes. Eric then mentioned the “toothbrush drill” which is a Baseball Rebellion Favorite and really engages and coordinates the large muscles of the core that turn the pelvis in the swing. See my demonstration of the toothbrush drill below and incorporate that into your pre-swing routine to activate your muscles and enhance the speed and completeness of your pelvis turn in the swing. The reason we call this drill the toothbrush drill is because you should do it twice a day…in front of a mirror…after you brush your teeth. (Clever huh?)
After the “toothbrush drill” comment, we went into some more technical teaching stuff, and then we were back to Rebel’s Rack and turn conversation:
Eric is a really smart guy. Matter of fact, I really enjoy talking to him, that’s probably why I talk to him so much honestly. The thing I like most about him was his initial skepticism in how the Rebel’s Rack could help his players and even how the turn works in general. We still talk about the Bat Drag Buster and how/if the arms work that way…but that’s for another time…and I appreciate that he’s willing to challenge me but also willing to HEAR my thoughts and TRY to see my side of the story. I do my best to treat his information exactly the same, and I know he appreciates that as well. As you can see from the texts above, he’s searching to be better, which is AWESOME. I wish more coaches were progressive and willing, as those who reach out to me get a lot in return once they show they really want to engage and share. You can see how he taught the turn in steps, which we try not to do quite so rigidly, as Baseball Rebellion teaching a series of movements not positions which can clog the swing and the brain of a young and impressionable hitter. If you’re a coach trying to teach this style of hitting, and very few of your students can do it…they’re telling you something…about YOU. That’s what Eric knows and that’s why we talk the way we do. So we can help each other reach more people in baseball and softball. Then I started talking about my ‘stubbornness’ as a coach, not with hitting, but with the movement improvement drills we do with the rack in the mirror and with resistance.
Most instructors feel pressure from parents to make the kids better. I know I feel it. But I remember the end goal: (Parents) want their kid to mash as fast as possible. That’s a simple fact. And if you set the expectations in the evaluation or first time with the kid/team, then you can introduce new movement patterns and drills that will accelerate the players’ development. Another thing I’d strongly advise, and many coaches do, is they show video not just of professional hitters, but of young hitters that are similar in age and size to the player they’re talking to. This shows the kid that he/she CAN do the moves, but they have to do the program that gets them to the movement progression they want in their swing. Often times, those moves DO NOT involve hitting a baseball. I say this all the time: You don’t learn math DURING the math test, or by TAKING MORE TESTS over and over. You take a test, see what you did wrong, the teacher breaks down the mistake…you practice that part of the problem over and over and then you re-test. Many people try to hit their way to a new swing, when they are just reinforcing the same patterns that got them to need lessons/struggle in the first place. Lets make this new year a time of change in how the game is taught, spoken about, evaluated and learned. Baseball Rebellion, and our growing group of coaches all over the country, are on the front lines of teaching and and educating the masses about the fastest way to learn.
We’re here. We’re friendly…all you have to do is engage. Hit me up on twitter @BRrebellion. I’d love to talk some hitting.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion