For my first case study since I have been at Baseball Rebellion I’m going to look at 17-year-old high school junior Jacob W.. Jacob and his parents make the two hour and fifteen minute trip once a week from Lynchburg, Virginia to Baseball Rebellion HQ in Durham, NC for hitting and throwing instruction. The long weekday trips have paid off for Jacob. Beside his dramatic improvements at the plate, he has gone from 76mph in his first initial evaluation to 91mph in his most resent visit. I first met Jacob and his parents in late November of 2017 where I saw him throw for the first time. It is now February 13th, 2018 and I have worked with him for a total of 7 lessons.
At 6’1″ 225lbs, Jacob definitely passes the eye. After watching him in the hitting cage, Jacob seemed to be very explosive with exit velocities over 100mph and home runs over 400 feet. After hitting with Chas for a few months, he asked me to do a throwing evaluation. I was surprised, despite his stature and ability to hit the ball a mile, he was not able to generate as much velocity on his throws. The following video is his initial evaluation with me.
Jacob W: Initial Evaluation Video 76mph
When looking at Jacobs throws across the diamond, I first saw that he was very tight through his arm swing. He didn’t allow his arm to get relaxed, which made his arm get very far outside of his body during the throw. So we started with the upper body movements and I showed him a variety of arm swing drills which we had him do every day. The arm swing drills allowed Jacob to feel his arm and trunk working together, which promotes healthier and more efficient positions through the throw. At times, we incorporate a slightly heavier ball, like a 10oz plyoball or a football, to start our throwing sessions to augment with the feeling of the arm swing. We also focused on a better deceleration process with a lower and more relaxed finish through the throw. This process is important when trying to accelerate the arm faster. Instantly stopping the arm in deceleration, if not fixed, can lead to loss of velocity and accuracy, and more importantly, arm injury issues down the road. Basically, these drills helped Jacob relax his body throughout his throwing motion, which is tough sometimes with his body-type.
Jacob also had to work on his hip mobility and speed through his lower half. The lower body is so important when trying to create more intent through a throw. We started Jacob with simple drills, like the Shoulder Separation Drill, to enhance the patterns needed to constantly get the hips and shoulders separated with more speed. The purpose of the separation with speed is to allow the hips to lead the thrower into the throw while keeping their head and chest behind their back hip when the front foot hits. When doing this, the thrower can let their shoulders and trunk rotate forward through the throw. That is is when we saw the drastic change in ball flight and velocity in Jacobs throws after working these upper and lower body drills.
Below is another one of the drill I did with Jacob during is training. It is called the Rock Drill with Transfer. This drill helps the thrower feel the proper arm swing while learning to transfer his body through the throw. Notice how Jacob uses the motion of a circle to allow his arms to relax and properly rotate through the acceleration phase.
Rock Drill with Transfer
Jacob has been dedicated to my program and has been working hard the past few weeks for the following change to occur. I really had no idea that the improvements the Jacob has made were even possible in such a short period of time. It has got to the point where I told him and his father, “I’m really excited to see what he can get!”. Literally every week he comes in with a number goal for that day and he passes it. The past two times he has hit 88mph and most recently an unbelievable jump to 91mph.
Jacob hit 88mph
Jacob was so excited after hitting 88mph but just fell short of the magic number 90. I told him to trust the process and movements because we know they obviously are working for him. Even though it was hard to think that he can make that big of a jump in such short of time. We still wanted to see that 90+ number. He showed up this week and accomplished something incredible:
Jacob hit 91mph!
I am so happy for Jacob and his family and the accomplishments that he has already had Baseball Rebellion. I have enjoyed working with him and getting to know his caring family. I get excited every time Jacob is on the schedule and I promise to keep delivering the information he needs to reach his fullest potential. Jacob, if you are reading this, I am excited to see you in the facility soon and keep working hard…you deserve all the success you are achieving! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed!
This week 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!
In honor of the greatest switch hitter of all time, Chipper Jones, being inducted into the Hall of Fame this past month, I wanted to give my take on switch hitting. Every so often, a parent asks me if I think their son or daughter should switch hit. More often than not, my answer is simple…No! Now before you stop reading this article, because this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, I encourage you to continue on and find out why.
My opinion on this matter may hold a little more value due to the fact it’s coming from someone who did switch hit. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a fair amount of knowledge of joint complexity, structure, and functional body movements. The funny thing is, a majority of my personal success I owe to switch hitting. My first full season as a switch hitter ever, I set the current Single Season all-time record for highest batting average in a season at Cal Lutheran University. I then bounced around the independent league ranks for 4 seasons with a lot of opportunities stemming from the mere fact I could switch hit.
In junior college, I did not switch hit. I always wanted to but for fear of regressing, I stuck to the right side. When I transferred to my 4-year school, I dedicated a majority of my time to switch hitting. I picked up switch-hitting immediately after my sophomore season in 2008 so I had that summer and fall to work on it. I struggled immensely in the beginning and was asked often, “Why do you want to switch hit? You’re way better from the right side.” The answer was simple. I thought it was the only chance I had at playing professionally. In 2009, I had a season-ending shoulder injury and was forced to take a medical redshirt. At the time I was devastated but looking back, it gave me more time to work on switch hitting. Obviously, I couldn’t swing, but I could study the swing more. I spent hours studying the swing. The swing I looked at the most was that of Bryce Harper, while he was still in High School/Junior College. His positions and his movements, I couldn’t describe at the time but I knew he was doing things in his swing that were insanely good.
Above is one of my favorite pictures of Harpers swings. This comes from way back in 2010 when Harper played his only year of collegiate baseball at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. The positions his body gets into throughout his swing are truly unique and require a high degree of range of motion all throughout the body.
So, I tried to emulate Bryce Harper. The more I studied the positions and movements of his swing, the more I realized how different they were from what I was doing. I would think to myself, “How does he even get into these positions?” It was so uncomfortable for my body to even attempt these positions in the mirror let alone go through a live swing to replicate the movements I was observing. I will say, identifying swing positions of elite level player definitely helped me as a player. However, positional identification, in regards to the swing, has its limitations. I had a clear understanding of what I had to do in order to mimic that of an elite hitter, I just wasn’t aware of how to adequately achieve what I was looking at. Now, with a few years of being a CSCS, working with athletes, working in 4 different strength and conditioning/physical therapy clinics and an ever-increasing amount of knowledge in regards to human movement, the answer became clear: To get the most out of positional swing identification you must physically have the joint awareness and capacity to achieve the positions you’re observing. As a switch-hitter, you have to be able to get into these positions from two sides of the body which, in my opinion, is extremely difficult for most hitters and for a lot of hitters, it is virtually impossible.
I struggled to emulate an elite level swing pattern left-handed, in part, because I didn’t have the room to move in the areas of my body that were needed. Upper back mobility, hip and leg mobility, the room to move just wasn’t there. I tweeted out a while back about how identifying positions in the swing is only as important as the knowledge needed to improve the range of motion required to achieve the identified positions. You can do all of the mirror work in the world but if your body doesn’t allow for these desired positions to occur free of conscious thought, you’re ultimately fighting an uphill battle you’re going to lose. I was fighting an uphill battle my whole career as a switch hitter, I just didn’t know it.
For a majority of hitters at any level, you are never going to move as well on your non-dominant side as your dominant side. There are too many limitations from a physical standpoint. A lot of the switch hitters I have worked with have inherent differences in regards to the shape of their swings. This is from the range of motion limitations. I always test range of motion with the hitters I work with and when it comes to switch-hitters, I’ve noticed whatever side they score better on in their assessment, that’s the side of the plate they are better on from a metrics standpoint (how hard they can hit the ball, how far they can hit the ball, etc.)
Another thing I wanted to touch on is what is generally lost in the throwing arms of baseball and softball players over time. Ask any strength coach who has experience with throwers, what are the 2 movements that, more often than not, become deficient in the shoulder joint. Throwers lose internal rotation due to an increase in the glenohumeral external rotation and upper trapezius function begins to degrade thus inhibiting the shoulder to elevate properly. Front arm elevation and internal rotation is a common movement shared amongst the best hitters in the world.
The physical limitations a hitter faces when switch-hitting are scientifically backed, but if this does not convince you, take a look at the statistical side of the argument. First, according to Baseball Reference, not one hitter in the history of MLB is in the top 50 career-wise for batting average. You would have to go outside of the top 50 to find a hitter in this category who is a switch hitter (Roger Connor who played before 1900 tied for 64th). In terms of home runs, only 4 hitters in the top 50 were switch hitters and none in the top 15. There is a reason for this folks, hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in professional sports. The only thing harder is having to hit from both sides of the plate.
Now, despite all the evidence, there are some outlying circumstances where I do think switch hitting is good. If the hitter demonstrates similar exit velocities and consistency from both sides of the plate at a young age, then as a parent I would let my child see it out. All too often though, I see switch hitters much better from one side of the plate. With Hittrax hitting, you can actually see how you measure up from both sides of the plate numbers wise (exit velocity, distance, etc.). I’ll see a hitter attempting to switch hit and the exit velocity splits from right to left or left to right are 10MPH. That is a significant difference! Any hitter currently switches hitting who has that big of a difference between sides should seriously consider investing their training time into the more dominant side.
In closing, if you are going to switch hit, get assessed. Go see a trainer, strength coach, or a physical therapist to make sure you have the active range of motion to move through the positions of the swinging from both sides of the plate. Never having to hit from the same side of the plate as the pitcher is throwing is a luxury but any type of physical limitations are going to make hitting from both sides of the plate even more difficult than it already is. Any questions, comment below. Thank you for reading!
With everyone’s season about to start, I wanted to share some information with all of our readers about how the college recruiting process works while you and the college coaches are both in-season. Last week I hopped on the Baseball Rebellion Podcast with JK and Eric to talk a little recruiting and share our knowledge on camps, showcases and recruiting communication. If you haven’t already, you can listen to last week’s podcast by clickinghere. To give a little background, out of college I was a high school coach at a top program in the Charlotte-area, and then following that, on East Carolina University’s Baseball staff for the past two years.
This article is designed to help anyone who plans on trying to play college baseball or softball and not just people who are currently being recruited. Whether you are 12 or 17, I believe that the information in this article will help you know and better understand how the recruiting process works during the season. As I have stated every time I talk about recruiting, whether it be in articles on the podcast, I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT YOU ARE REALISTIC WITH WHAT YOUR ABILITY LEVEL IS AND WHAT SCHOOLS FIT INTO YOUR LEVEL. You must self-evaluate yourself and have a clear, realistic understanding of where you are as a player. Here are the best ways to do so:
Look at other players your age who are being recruited and find out what schools are recruiting them and ask yourself how you stack up against those players
Get an outside (not your parents) opinion to compare you and other players to see where you currently stand. If your high school coach, travel team coach, or private instructor has coached recruited players in the past, ask them how your ability compares to players that have gone to play at the next level. At Baseball Rebellion, we help show this to high school athletes by comparing HitTrax data of players who have gone to play at the next level
If you have relationships with college coaches ask them what they believe your strengths/weaknesses are. This is the best way to get your true evaluation as a player
You’re practicing, lifting weights and playing games. The college coaches are at their team’s practices, their team’s lift’s and their team’s games. Both parties are extremely busy but coaches still have to recruit and if they want to see you/talk to you then you have to make time for this to happen.
Most of the recruiting during the season will be done through phone calls, emails, text messages and direct messages on social media. This is very important because the first impression a coach has of you might not be in person.
STAND OUT DURING COMMUNICATION
The coach you talk to might be making 15 other recruiting phone calls that day. If you are really interested in that school you must do something that helps separate you from the others calls he or she makes. Here are some tips to help you better phone communicate with college recruiters:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
These college coaches spend countless hours talking to your coaches, watching you play and looking at your stats. If they are spending this time doing their “homework” on you, then you need to be doing your “homework” on that school. If you get the chance to talk to a coach during the season, make sure you know how THEIR season is going and don’t just talk about yours. Know their most recent games/results, talk about how you’ve been keeping up with their schedule and what players you noticed are playing well. I can guarantee this is a great way to show the coach how interested you are.
SEND YOUR HIGH SCHOOL AND TRAVEL TEAM’S SCHEDULE
Most of the time coaches will have a spreadsheet of all of their recruit’s high school and travel team schedules. And a lot of man hours are put into scouring the internet trying to find that information. One of the best things you can do is send your schedule to school’s you are interested in. This will help save a lot of time for the coaches.
KNOW THE RULES
It is very important that you have an understanding of the recruiting rules so you don’t get yourself or the coaches a violation. Here is a chart highlighting some important information to know when it comes to rules and recruiting:
The most important “recruiting” season for both baseball and softball will be during your summer travel season. I spoke about it on the podcast last week that if you are a baseball player who is wanting to play in college you need to be on a team who goes down to Lake Point in Emerson, GA to play in the World Wood Bat Association. This is the MOST centralized recruiting area for college coaches in the county. Thousands of players go every summer and nearly every coach at every level will be there at some point to recruit players.
The most important thing you can do going into the summer season is making sure that school’s you have been communicating with have your travel schedule and be sure to send them updates any time there are changes. The last thing you want to have happen is for a coach to show up at a field/tournament that you’re not playing in anymore expecting to watch you play. Find out what college connections your travel ball coach has and if there are any you would be interested in. Sometimes it could be best for you to be proactive and reach out to schools that you have a REALISTIC chance of playing at.
The last thing I want to add is that if you find yourself panicking because you are not being recruited, know that there is a place out there for everyone to play. There are so many levels of four-year schools, junior colleges, and NAIA schools that there more than likely a place out there for you. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to Junior Colleges in your area or in your state and see if there are still looking for players. There are numerous situations of student-athletes signing with a junior college summer after their senior year.
I really hope you all found this article informative. I used my knowledge gained while working on coaching staffs in high school, college and travel ball to help get this information to you in hopefully a very understandable way!
Found this article informative? Check out Tyler’s last recruiting article here!
This week JK will discuss how learning to swing up can drastically change your chances for success. Dave will dive into how position players can greatly benefit from quarterback like practice. New comers, Eric Tyler and Tyler Zupcic weigh in on the college recruitment process. Eric and Tyler both have spent extensive time in college baseball and have great insight if your son or daughter is thinking about the next level. Thanks for listening!
As Baseball Rebellion/Softball Rebellion has grown, we have decided to be more open with the “HOW” of our process instead of just the results.This, for years, was not the case at BR/SR, as we wouldn’t even let clients film the movement progressions we do with hitters.We are all excited about how showing these movements can help players of all ages turn faster and hit with more power.Releasing our movement progression has been something I’ve considered for a long time.We haven’t done it, until now, and will be including an even more detailed breakdown inside of the Rebel’s Rack Drills for those who have and are going to purchase the Rebel’s Rack.All in all, the movement progressions we are about to show you have built what we do here at BR/SR.Without them, the Hittrax data we produce, the scholarships, draft picks/bonus money, and the opportunities for our position player athletes would be greatly diminished.We at Baseball Rebellion are extremely excited to show our process and continue to push ourselves to be more transparent and give more back to the game that have given us so much.Enjoy!
On May 29th, 2012, I launched the Rebel’s Rack, a rotational power trainer and ‘hitting aid’ that helps baseball and softball players hit the ball harder and farther.At the time, Baseball Rebellion had no Hittrax machines, so all we had was a stalker gun we held up at the hitter to test their exit velocities.Softball and baseball players of all ages and ability levels were radically increasing their ball exit speed in matters of minutes using our movement progressions and the Rebel’s Rack.
Over the years, the Rebel’s Rack has changed some.No longer yellow in color, the Rebel’s Rack now has 4 sizes that fit kids as small as 50 lbs up to 250lbs.The ‘wings’ on the Rebel’s Rack are longer now, limiting any pinching that the first iteration of the Rebel’s Rack could cause.More importantly, how we USE the rack has changed, as we’ve learned the nuances of training rotation and preparing to rotate and timing that rotation to a moving ball.At the time, I had no idea how much I’d grow to love training movement and improving rotational range, speed, and power.The first lessons with the Rebel’s Rack, the ‘non-hitting’ lessons, are my most favorite to teach.The foundation of movement quality and speed built there translates into game acceleration, adjustability, speed and power almost immediately for most players.Watching a player find out what ‘FASTEST’ really is inside of their bodies and inside of their turn/swing for the first time and their eye’s light up and the green numbers flash on the Hittrax is what I love most about my job.The Green Bell has been a great culture builder, pushing players to want to come out of their comfort zones to get the applause of those in the building when they ring the bell after a new personal record.
BUT HOW do we as instructors help players, even pros, generate so much more distance and exit velocity so fast?Over the past 5 years, through trial and error, painstaking video analysis, and constant exit velocity and distance monitoring, the team of instructors at Baseball Rebellion have created the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression. Below, you will see the three (3) main moves we use, and make hitters MASTER before they are allowed to hit (in the cage) again in our program.These foundational moves are practiced over and over, deliberately, with internal cues that the hitter must make on their own before he or she re-earns the right to hit.
Movement One: The Stride (Tempo Based, Slowing the Game Down)
Once any hitter returns for their first ‘lesson’ after the evaluation they don’t even need their bat.We head over to a mirror and the hitter is instructed to stride ‘at the mirror’ as if the mirror were the pitcher.I want the hitter to see themselves move and hear our cues. “The mirror is the best teacher in the building” is often said at BR/SR.Another favorite is, “your eyes are for the mirror, your ears are for me”.The hitter, strides and strides and strides.Over and over.All while watching themselves stride in the mirror and reacting and evolving their movements based on the cues and instructions of the BR Instructor.
Keys to the Stride:
Extremely Slow in the landing
Open front foot/kneecap towards the mirror (pitcher)
Heel to Heel Landing position
No opening or ‘flinching’ of the chest at landing
Head BACK over Back Hip (this is a change from what we taught years ago, as hitting is more than just generating rotational power…you have to be able to hit and lift a moving ball)
Once these keys are achieved, we move on to the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression to Movement Two.
Movement Two: The Show (Preparing to Turn, Storing Energy)
Now, the hitter has mastered the slow stride (this can be a leg kick, small lift, toe tap, pretty much anything the hitter wants) with an open front leg/kneecap towards the mirror.The hitter’s head is back and he or she is not ‘flinching’ or opening their shoulders at any point in the movement or at landing on the front foot.The hitter has earned the right to progress into the “Show” phase of the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression.Still in the mirror, facing the mirror as if it were the pitcher, the hitter is instructed to stride exactly as they did before with a few simple, and extremely important changes.As the hitter lands, they are instructed to open their pelvis towards the mirror as they keep their front shoulder closed.Cues we use range from “show your belly button towards the pitcher” to “open your stomach as far as you can while you show the back ‘wing’ of the Rebel’s Rack in the mirror”.Essentially, we are twisting up the body in opposite ways.The lower half is opening, and the upper half, specifically the upper back and back arm, are resisting that opening as hard as they can.This stores energy and prepares the body to TURN as quickly as possible.EVERY SINGLE THING done in “the Show” phase is preparing the body to turn quickly and instantly.Store as much energy as possible and completely wind yourself up as far as you can without losing sight of the pitcher with your back eye.
Keys to the Show:
Open the pelvis from ABOVE the pelvis, using your lower back and stomach muscles.
Soft and slow landing with the front side, no ‘bouncing’ into the ground or ‘stomping’.
Keep your front shoulder totally still or ‘slightly close’ your front side shoulder by pulling back with your upper back and resist the opening/turn/swing with your back arm/upper back.
Movement Three:The Turn
Now the hitter has mastered the MOVEMENTS of slowly striding and slowly storing up as much energy for the turn as possible.It’s time to put that energy to good use!The hitter goes into the “Show” phase of the turn move and lands and stops.From here, we teach the hitter the turn, from a dead standstill.Basically, the turn is three basic movements that happen all at once.
The hitter must SIMULTANEOUSLY pull their back hip forward from above the pelvis (this moves the back foot as well), forcefully straighten their front leg into the ground through the front heel of the front foot, and turn their belly button past the pitcher and back shoulder all the way to centerfield.Usually, there are many different mistakes that happen, and almost ALL of them are caused by the hitter turning too slowly.Remember, the turn must be LEARNED FAST while the preparation to turn must be learned and executed slowly.The faster you turn…the faster you learn!Slowness in the turn causes the hitter’s head to drift forward, the front leg to fail to straighten out, the back foot/hip not moving forward far enough or too far (both can happen) and the shoulders not to turn all the way.Many balance issues arise when the turn is slow…and the hitter MUST be totally committed to the idea of achieving maximum speed in the turn from the beginning to the finish.There is no slowing down…no easing into it…the turn must GO and be done.
Keys to the Turn:
The hitter must turn as fast and completely as possible, there is no ‘almost’ or ‘kinda fast’
The hitter must lock out his front knee completely and hold the finish
The hitter must pull the back foot forward with no dragging of the toe
The hitter must land on the ball of their back foot and not let the heel drop
The hitter’s back knee must be in front of the hitter’s face at the finish of the turn (swingman finish)
The back shoulder must completely replace the front shoulder and be higher than the front shoulder at the finish
If a hitter is willing to spend the time mastering this movement progression with these executable internal cues, then the ‘chaos’ of hitting gets much much easier to deal with.Problems like a change of velocity or break are more easily solved by ‘sinking into’ the front side.Remember, we learned the turn from a dead stop position (Show Position), so now the hitter knows he or she can go fast from there.If a hitter gets fooled, they have a better plan…and it’s built in.Mr. Miyagi did this to Daniel Son by having him Wax on, Wax off and Paint the Fence.These repeatable actions became ingrained in him so when Miyagi attacked Daniel, he knew how to defend the different punches. Likewise, hitter’s posture and turn aggression become what we call ‘unbreakable’. The “unbreakable” posture and turn speed can be practiced daily and once these movements are mastered, they become subconscious and are instantly recalled by the body when needed in games. In minutes, a hitter can do hundreds of turns with the rack without any failure at all! Imagine how efficient your training could be if you took away the stress of hitting? No more frustrated faces from a rollover or a pop up…No more hitting until your hands bleed…no more confusion about WHY you went 0 – 4…you’ll know why you failed…your posture and speed of the turn broke. The less a hitter ‘breaks’ within the game turn, the better he or she will hit. Period.
Training movements away from the cage and then taking them into the cage is common in instruction nowadays. But much of that training and ‘feel work’ doesn’t translate and is just feels for feels sake.We want everything a hitter does to increase their ability to accelerate their turn, time their turn, and find their top speed as fast as they can with their BODY, not with their arms and hands.We even take the Rebel’s Rack into the cages at first, before they hit, so they can time a moving ball with their turn after they time their load with the pitcher’s arm swing or windup.This sequence leads to the fastest improvements we have ever seen on Hittrax, the fastest ‘ah ha’ moments for our clients, the most confidence in our shared process, and the fastest carry over into games.
Writing this article and posting these videos was scary for me.I’ve had many, many people tell me ‘they just don’t understand what you guys do’ when people come at us on social media.Players we’ve helped say, ‘Chas, if they knew how fast you and the guys did it, and how you guys did it, then they’d understand’.For years we have hidden this information from ‘outsiders’.Now, we at Baseball Rebellion and Softball Rebellion are going to bring you behind the curtain and you can try to duplicate our results for yourself.Get some Racks, and learn how to turn.Enjoy the success this will bring you, your team, and or your players.The Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression is a secret no more, now let’s unlock whats inside your body already…the fastest turns you’ve ever experienced!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball and Softball Rebellion
Over the past couple of years, I have seen a lot of discussion on how to give the most effective feedback to athletes. In particular, the question of whether internal or external feedback is more effective has been quite polarizing. Although this is the most common debate, there are many other factors to consider when it comes to motor learning such as practice variability and the quantity of feedback. While we don’t have the space to do a deep dive into each one of these topics, I do want to give you practical coaching tips that are steeped in motor learning research rather than anecdotal opinions. I’ll be the first to admit that in writing this piece, I can think of numerous mistakes I have made with players in each of the categories I’ll discuss. Thankfully, making mistakes is a great way to learn!
Internal vs. External Feedback
Before we get into what the research says about internal vs. external feedback, let’s begin with some quick definitions. Internal Feedback is when the athlete is told (or tells themselves) to address the internal requirements of a task. For example, cueing/thinking about dropping the back shoulder forcefully to get the barrel in the path of the ball would be an example of internal feedback. In contrast, External Feedback is when the feedback or thought has to do with the external result. An example of this would be telling a player to hit the ball over the fence or to pull the ball. So, which is better? Well… As with most things it depends. Motor Learning research suggests that children benefit more from internal feedback than external feedback while adults benefit more from external feedback that is focused on the result of a task. At Baseball Rebellion, we primarily work with children and young adults. This explains the success we have had with beginning our program with our movement progression in the mirror that is highly internally focused. We have seen that once our young clients understand and have practiced focusing on the internal requirements of the swing, they are able to make astonishing improvements. This being said, it is highly important that the language used is age appropriate and presented in a way that can be understood. On the other hand, I have made many mistakes working with older clients whose performance has acutely declined when I provided seemingly simple internal feedback. In thinking back, most of the older athletes have performed better when clearing their minds and focusing on the external result. As I have heard Baseball Rebellion founder Chas Pippitt say many times, “You have to let a thoroughbred be a thoroughbred.” With this in mind, we do feel that it is important early on in the training process to know and understand the same movement progression learned in the mirror (See Blocked practice below) but with cueing that is more externally based.
Random Practice vs. Blocked Practice vs. Mixed Practice
Random Practice is when a variety of tasks are practiced at random and are rarely practiced more than twice in a row. Blocked Practice is when a task is repeated several times before a new task introduced. Mixed Practice is a combination of random and blocked practice. Research has shown that random practice is better for adults and those learning a new skill. Random practice is also better children and young adults who have achieved proficiency using blocked practice in complex, sport-specific skills. Blocked practice is better for children/young adults and those learning a new skill. The guidelines mentioned above have not only been shown to be true in the isolated research setting but in transferring improved performance to other environments. As with most things, there is a continuum so some dosage of mixed practice has been shown to be effective in all populations.
The training program at Baseball Rebellion follows this methodology in that the beginning phase contains a great deal of blocked practice for everyone. Although many players come to us having played baseball for many years, the vast majority come because they want to learn a NEW and more efficient movement pattern making the progression essentially a new skill. With our older clients, we quickly move from blocked practice to mixed practice where the hitter attempts to repeat the movement pattern learned in front toss with fastballs to different locations. As they improve we progress to mixing in off-speed pitches and throwing mixed BP. The goal is to come as close as possible to simulating the game experience they will have by randomizing the variables the hitter will face in competition. However, this is only effective after building a solid movement foundation that is established through early blocked practice. With the kids we train, we spend a lot more time on blocked practice and slowly work towards randomized and mixed practice. This is something we will continue to reinforce with the knowledge that children transfer skills more effective with a heavy volume of blocked practice.
Frequency of Feedback
Unfortunately, we all know the helicopter baseball parent’s that Domingo refers to as “Bleacher Coaches.” Often coaches are just as guilty of being helicopter coaches who micro-manage and provide far too much feedback. In the motor learning, the frequencies of feedback are defined as constant, intermittent, and faded. Constant Feedback is when it is given after every single repetition. Intermittent Feedback is simple feedback given less than 100% of the time. Faded Feedback is when the amount of feedback is higher when learning in the early stages of learning a task and decreases as the individual becomes more proficient. Studies have shown that adults and children benefit from faded feedback with children benefiting more from a higher frequency of feedback early in the learning process. Far too many baseball coaches provide too high of a frequency of feedback for too long. After an initial period of time, an athlete recognizes their obvious mistakes on their own. A coach or parent’s constant feedback can overload and irritate a player which often leads to them tuning out the coach which defeats the purpose of coaching. A good tip for coaches is to allow your players to participate in the learning process by asking them questions. In a given lesson or session, ideally, the player will speak as much if not more than the coach.
The above recommendations are great to apply to general populations and should provide a solid framework to guide your teaching. Whether teaching kids, adults, or somewhere in between, it is essential to understand motor learning and how each individual learns best. I hope this info helps you as much as it has helped me!
Campbell. Physical Therapy for Children. 4th Edition. 2012.
Cech and Martin. Functional Movement Development. 3rd Edition. 2012
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor
In this week’s episode the guys welcome on re-occuring guest, Ryan Mountcastle, top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization. They discuss the the great 2017 year that Ryan had and his plans to keep it going. Dave and JK also get to talking about the MLB Hall of Fame and why switch hitting might be the biggest myth in baseball. Thanks for listening!
This past week I tweeted a quick drill without going too far in depth into why we do the drill and what it is for. I use this drill for pitchers and position players of all ages every day in my lessons. It works so well that I wanted to share it with all our readers in hopes that it will make your (or your son/daughter’s) delivery safer and more effective. Hope you enjoy!
In the video below I explain the first of three phases of the Band Separation Drill. A good arm swing starts right out of the glove. It is involved with the first initial movement of the lower half momentum. As the lower half drives toward the target, the throwing arm should be relaxed out of the glove.
The reason I use the band is to allow my brain and body to work together. Use the tension of the band to allow the body to do most of the work. You do not necessarily want to PULL the band into position.
The reason for a more consistent arm swing, and why we want to integrate a proper sequence of movements, is to maintain a healthy and effective delivery. We want to avoid teaching cues like show the ball to center fielder and point the glove to the target because these cues make the player’s hands break away from each other which leads to unhealthy and uneffective timing flaws. For example, pitchers that have these tend to have their head/trunk very forward too early in the delivery.
The photos above are of Carter Capps pitching for the Marlins before he was traded to the San Diego Padres. Capps received Tommy John Surgery in March of 2015 and needed surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this offseason. They hope he will be back for 2108 spring training but he is a huge question mark for a return to full health. Capps was one of the most promising young pitchers of the game at one point but poor mechanics have hurt him. WHY? You can see above that he points his glove right to the target and tries to hide the ball on his backside. There is no arm swing involved with this delivery. He also does a crazy leap forward off of the mound, which puts him in a very bad spot at foot strike. His elbow is above his shoulder with his upper body forward over his belt. This type of delivery is bad because he never allows his posture to change to continue his shoulders to rotate properly toward the target. The next part of the drill goes into how proper posture change leads to an efficient position at front foot strike.
Drill Part 2: Shoulder Separation with Posture Change
Drill Part 3: Rotation into Ball Release
40 Minute Fix
Please comment below, email me firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @Dshinbone15 or @BRrebellion with any questions about this drill!
Want the bands that Dave is using in this drill? Check out our store to purchase the bands!
What a year it has been for Adam Parzych at national home run derby events. The Tallahassee native and Baseball Rebellion at Titus Sports Academy client has won both Power Showcases for the 2017 year at the 14U level. A tremendous, unprecedented accomplishment for an athlete his age.
Earlier in the year, Adam competed at the Power Showcase at Globe Life Park in Arlington in which he cruised to victory after hitting 12 home runs in the preliminary round and 9 in the championship round. If you are interested in reading more about that article, click here The competition was stiffer in Miami compared to Arlington. Not to take anything away from Adams victory in Arlington, but even Jeff, Adam’s father, said,
“The competition was definitely of a higher caliber at the event in Miami compared to Arlington.”
As soon as Adam returned from his win in Arlington, we got back in the cage and continued our work. Adam made some huge strides in terms of understanding his swing between these events. I can’t give enough credit to our use of the HitTrax in every lesson to let us know where Adam was at launch angle and distance wise. It was a huge advantage for Adam in competing in these events.
What’s funny about Adam is, I would describe him as an average sized 14 year old. Listed at 5’10 and 165 pounds, he had no definitive size advantage in comparison to some of the participants in his age group yet he blew away the competition. His swing and his ability to execute his swing is what made this event even easier for him to win.
In the preliminary round, Adam bashed out 18 home runs with the next closest participant hitting 13 home runs. The furthest ball hit in the 14-year-old group was 445 feet and Adams furthest was originally listed at 400 but has since been changed and marked at an actual distance of 442 feet. That’s some type of power out of a 5’10 165 pound frame. In the championship round, Adam blasted 9 home runs good for 27 total and another Power Showcase Championship to his name. On top of his victory, Adam is the ONLY Power Showcase event participant to win the event and run the fastest 60-yard dash at the 14U division. Speed and power is quite the combination.
I write this article because I am so proud of Adam and his commitment to my teaching, mentoring, and the Baseball Rebellion hitting methodology. It takes quite the willingness to have success at a young age and enroll in hitting lessons in an effort to get even better. There are so many hitters out there that invest an irrational amount of time in other training modalities (strength and conditioning, mental coaching etc.) but won’t invest in a deeper understanding of what’s most important to a position players baseball career, their swing.
I wasn’t physically able to attend this event like I did in Arlington, but I was able to watch it via live stream on the power showcase website. Power Showcase does an amazing job of running this event year in and year out and every participant should understand, regardless of their outcome, how lucky they are to even hit on a big league field. The Miami Marlins park is a beautiful venue. Here is one of the many pictures I received that weekend from Adam’s Dad.
I’m excited about Adam and his future in baseball. In closing, we’re in the midst of 2 stances in regards to the sport of baseball. There is the “all play, no train” crowd (kids who play year round with little to no athletic training) which is not good. But now, I am seeing the “all train, no play” crowd (those who move places to train, refuse to go to showcases or events until they are “ready, won’t sign with a team etc.) and I think that’s just as bad, if not worse than, those who play year round. Neither is correct, but as a player, you should aim for a balance of both. I encourage athletes to train hard but also, go to events like showcases, home run derbies, national events and see where you stand. Humble yourself. I’m happy Adam is able to implement what we work on in his training to the events he attends. Congratulations Adam!
KC Judge, CSCS
Lead Hitting Instructor, Baseball Rebellion at TITUS Sports Academy-Tallahassee