The Rollover – Baseball Rebellion Whiteboard Series

The Rollover - Baseball Rebellion Whiteboard Series

 

In this video, we discuss the rollover.  Where it comes from, how to fix it, and things to avoid so it doesn't become an issue with you or your hitter.  Thanks for watching!

Many moons ago, in the year of 2012, I wrote an article that went through the use of the front leg (scroll down the page about halfway) in an elite hitter’s swing.  Since then, my views of the front leg have not changed whatsoever.  I do, however, now have a much deeper understanding of the front leg and its multiple functions in a swing.  So to revisit this part of the swing, I thought I would take you through a step by step use of the front leg during a swing with a little help from one of my favorite players who I believe has one of the best swings in all of baseball, Francisco Lindor.  In the end, I hope that you will also have a much better understanding of how the front leg of a hitter affects his or her swing.

To get us started let’s take a look at the swing in real time.

1. Timing Mechanism

 

 

I love this GIF because you can clearly see Lindor stutter as he tries lifting his front foot to sequence up to the start of his load with the pitchers windup.  I have seen enough video of him to know that this is not always the same.  Depending on the pitchers’ move he does such a good job of making sure he gets into his loading process early so that he can fully be prepared to smash.  Using the front leg/foot lift you can alter when you start in case the pitcher changes into a faster motion, if they pause, or goes into a quick slide step.  Now the process of loading should never change but in this “dance” between us and the pitcher, it is the hitter’s job to follow.

 

2. For the Ride

 

 

Once the lift of to the front leg has been timed up to the pitcher’s windup, slide step, or whatever, now the leg and foot are along for the ride.  What I mean by “along for the ride” is that the movement forward is not as much a reach with the front leg as it is a hips and body weight shift forward.  This will, of course, bring the front leg with it.  Too many players try reaching their front foot to a specific spot on the ground.  This will only serve to minimize momentum and power along with making it harder to adjust to the ball and the many speeds and locations it could go.  Through the majority of Lindor’s stride, notice there is no early rotating of the hips, leg, or foot.  This will happen next when the commitment to the pitch happens.

 

3. Open the Gate to Stabilizing (Firming Up)

 

“Opening the gate” refers to when the hitter’s brain allows their front leg open upon deciding to swing which is the violent opening of the hips.  I italicised the word “allows” because remember the hips open the leg, not the leg itself, for the most part.

Now, this does have some gray area.  Because we don’t know exactly if the next pitch will be hittable or not, a hitter must always bring themselves right to the edge of swinging and be able to “GO” or “DON’T GO”.  If the pitch is clearly a ball the hitter might not open the front side at all but if it’s close, they may flinch the hip turn and there will still be some opening.  Ideally, in a swing, we want the front foot to open face in fair territory, at the very least. This will ensure maximum hip rotation for more power but also keep the ankle, knee, and hip joints safe from wear and tear. Here you can see Lindor’s front leg open upon committing to the pitch.  Notice how close to the end of the stride he is before you see an opening, this is key.  Reacting as late as possible but still be on time is a huge part of his success.

Becuase there is some “bleeding” into the next stage at this point I wanted to add stabilizing at the end of this stage.  Once the foot enters the ground, the hitter should begin to stabilize by keeping a firm yet bent front knee which will be used next.  The firmness is very important because it keeps the momentum of the stride from drifting the body weight over the front foot too much while helping to maintain a good spine/head position.  The bent front knee will be used slightly after foot plant.

4. Firming and Pushing Back to Contact or Firm Delay Push to Contact

 

 

Picking up right where stage 4 left off, once the leg is firm and the head/spine angle is stabilized the leg will straighten out.  This will come from the hitter’s front heel, just like when squatting.  This will activate the hitters largest and most powerful pushing muscles to help continued stabilization through the swing while helping with the rotation of the hips.  If this breaks down, you will see a lot of butt out – arm swings that in no way are powerful.

During an adjustment on an off-speed pitch, you will see good hitters continue to bend their front knee for a bit longer before really engaging in their swing.  This extra bend equals extra time.  All we need is a little extra time to allow the off-speed pitch to get closer to the hitting zone.  There will be some power loss here but well trade that for time.  We’ll trade it because we are most likely in a two-strike count at this point and we have to swing.  You won’t break and distance or velocity records when doing this but you can still be powerful enough to succeed in hitting the ball hard and out of the infield.

 

5. Staying Firm and Pushing Back To Finish and/or Recoil

 

 

The end is really simple.  Keep the front leg straight until the end and it can recoil.  You see Lindor’s front knee bend again right at the end.  Most hitters will do this at the completion of their swing.  As long as the hitter is doing its job until the shoulders have fully rotated then a recoil at the end is no big deal.   The ball will have been hit and the front leg’s job is over.

I hope that this stage by stage look into the role of the front leg has helped many of you.  Understanding the different parts of the swing and their role is a huge step in making you or your hitter’s swing the best that it can be.  Thanks for reading!

The Movements That Made The Rebellion - The Rebel's Rack Revisited

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!

Background

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 55 Rebel's Racks being shipped!

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

Master the Movements

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.  

Wax On, Wax Off

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.  

Seeing Gains Away from the Cage

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.  

Conclusion

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

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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 Take-Away

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!

References

Campbell. Physical Therapy for Children. 4th Edition. 2012.

Cech and Martin. Functional Movement Development. 3rd Edition. 2012

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown:

Lauren Chamberlain

 


 

Lauren Chamberlain is a current member of the USSSA Pride.  Lauren was a super star at Oklahoma University where she compiled 95 home runs during her time there.  In this video you will see exactly how and why she was one of the best D1 hitters of all time.  The most impressive part of her swing was her ability to load and fire her hip and shoulders.  The massive amount of hip/shoulder separation, followed by a very nice backward and down back shoulder and barrel move is how she was able to not only the balls harder than most girls, but also get more balls in the air.  Enjoy!

 

JK Whited – Baseball and Softball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

@JKWhited – Twitter

 

 

In this week’s episode of the Baseball Rebellion Podcast, JK and Dave talk about taking high quality practice mechanics into games.  The guys also talk about post game conversations with players and how they respond. The Baseball Rebellion welcomes Jacob Cruz, AA hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs.  They talk about his viral new hitting aid, The Line Drive Pro. Finally JK, Dave, and Chas list their favorite Incredibly dumb things they’ve witnessed in baseball.  

Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown:

Miguel Sano

 

 

Miguel Sano is off to a great start in the 2017 MLB season.  I specifically picked him due to the fact that he has the highest average exit velocity in the big leagues as of right now.  Here is the full list in case you are interested.  Having a 100 mph average velocity is something to take notice of and I wanted to see how he was doing it.

Sano’s loading movements are really nice and simple.  Meaning that he does get some extra momentum with a medium high leg kick but noting too crazy.  After all this guy is 260 lbs, give or take.  He creates wonderful hip and shoulder separation give him the power behind his high exit velocities.  Not only that but Sano, does an unbelievable job at keeping his head back in a great spot so that his can work his back shoulder down and bring the barrel in from behind the ball.  Sano is a great example of how a big guy still have to have the right mechanics to be successful.  Unlike a lot of professional players in A, AA, and even AAA, Sano is not good just because of his size.

Thanks for watching!

–  JK Whited

 

Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown:

Fred McGriff

As most of you know already, I really enjoy going back to look at some of baseball’s all-time great hitters. Fred McGriff played for many teams throughout his career that lasted over two decades. For me Fred McGriff will always be a Brave and I’ll never forget how good those mid 90’s Braves teams where. McGriff hit 493 home runs with somewhat of an unorthodox start to his swing and a more “out to in” approach.

I think most people will see Fred McGriff and immediately notice his stance being different than most. From seeing his stance those same people might think he “swings” differently because of how he looks in his stance. What they need to understand is that all great hitters swing the same way, regardless of how they look in their stance. I think what you’ll notice is how McGriff was able to use his 6’3 frame to create leverage and therefor, force.

Thanks for watching!

JK Whited – Leader of The Baseball Rebellion

3 Pre-Game Hitting Routines for 3 Field / Game Scenarios

Recently I had a Baseball Rebellion client come in as he does every week for his hitting lesson. His dad asked me a great question that I am sure many of you parents or coaches have had before. "how should my baseball/softball player get ready to hit right before a game?" Normally this is a very easy question to answer, but with the scheduling of travel ball tournaments, the 8 a.m. game start times, and usually sub-par facilities at baseball / softball fields,  you can see where it might get difficult, to do an easy thing. So I started thinking about a few different scenarios that parents/coaches might come across where they may not know what to do before games. I'm sure there are many more so I will be happy to answer your questions in the comment section below.

 

Scenario 1 - Early morning game

We've all been there before. The 8 a.m. game at a field an hour away. Up at 6:30 and at the field at 7:40 leaving most coaches and players with nothing to due but wait for the rest of the team and then play.  With the 20 minutes that you do have, let's break down Baseball Rebellion's ideal hitting routine to the minute.

Dynamic Warm Up : Minutes 1-5

This can be a number of exercises / drills, but anybody who has been a part of the Baseball Rebellion knows how to activate the "hitting muscles". Whether using the Rebel's Rack and/or Drive Developer Bands, or some Core/Trunk activation. This should also include some light running to stimulate the blood flow to the lower half.

glute bridge

Swing "Footwork" : Minutes 6-10

This particular part of the preparation should be focused on getting your body and mind synced up and in rhythm with the swing.  Focus on moving forward well and executing a full rotation of the body. You won't have time to get into many particulars of the swing, but you should have a more macro focus on what's going on. For instance making sure stride distance is maximized.

Hitting / Swings : Minutes 11-20

Now a lot will depend on the facilities at this point. In almost every scenario hitting a little bit would be best, but we know sometimes that it is not possible.

If there is a cage then the next 10 minutes should be used hitting moving balls if possible. The hitter should focus on fully moving the body forward and getting the foot down late. If there is any chance you know the pitcher at this point, you can try to create the most accurate timing that you can (especially when to start your swing). If the pitcher that day throws harder than average then coach can put a little more on the BP pitch in order to recreate a game like experience.  Rounds should be short and high intensity, especially towards the end.

If there is not a place for hitting to be done and you don't have time to set up a net of some sort, then there are other options as well.  KC Judge wrote a great article about how baseball and softball hitters can use medicine ball throwing as a substitute for hitting. This can really get the blood flowing and ensure that the hitter is staying with their technique. Also, dry swings (done the right way) can be a good substitute. Outside taking batting practice, nothing is quite as good, but these other options will make the the best of what you can do in such a short amount of time with limited facilities.

 

Medicine Ball Throws

 

Scenario 2 - No facilities, Lots of time "Double Header"

This situation will be familiar when you have those double headers that are 2 hours apart. No time to go back home and rest, so you have to stay at the field and wait for your next game. Unfortunately at this park, there are zero places to hit and nothing but time to burn. After a quick bite to eat and rehydrating, go work on your swing and/or make any necessary hitting adjustments from game 1.

Dowel Rod: Stride to front

One great piece of training equipment that we use at the Baseball Rebellion is a dowel rod. Dowel rods are super handy when you can't hit and don't have a medicine ball. You can see me using one in the GIF above.  They are very easy to put into a players bag and can be used in a variety of ways to improve the baseball / softball swing. If there are identifiable issues in the swing such as, stride length too short, incomplete hip/shoulder rotation, or the swing path was flat or down, then you can make some minor adjustments to be better for the next game. I know no one can fix everything in one hour of dry work, but certain things can be improved enough to make a difference, especially with the right mindset.

Mindset and swing intentions can be one of the easiest things to improve, even with limited time between games. If it is clear that you or your player was not aggressive in the first game, just assure them that being aggressive is the best way to hit, and there is no reason to fear failure (striking out). With some good movement work and a change in attitude, any baseball or softball player can really turn a tournament around quickly. Try to refrain from things that might put added pressure or more fear into players, as that will not solve anything, especially long term. Once an adjustment has been identified, run through some simple footwork, drills, or dry swings that will improve / make the adjustment i.e. full turns with a dowel rod or Rebel's Rack.

If your player is having trouble with off speed pitches, work on adjustability with audible cues. This would require the coach/dad to get the player to either go through their movements as if the pitch were a well-timed fastball, then have to adjust their timing with an audible cue. This is not as good as the visual cue from a ball, but can still train the reaction you want out of the body.

 

Scenario 3 - Lots of time, quality facilities

For those of us lucky enough to play baseball or softball past high school, we know that as you get older, the preparation time before games only gets longer. In college we would show up to the field about 3 hours before the game and in professional ball I know sometimes those guys are there even earlier. Nice facilities make swing preparation so much easier. So if you find yourself at a tournament having the 4 p.m. game, don't be afraid to show up an hour or so early to get your body and mind prepared to have a good game.

  1.  The dynamic hitter's warm-up at the start is crucial. Prepare the hitter's muscles, like core, legs, and shoulders, to be explosive, (especially the core muscles). If done right, this process should only take around 10 minutes, which is not long but you're just trying to get the blood flowing. Performance improvement will happen in workout situations well before games, not the day of.
  2. Once the body is loose, the hitter should begin to move like an athlete. This part will be very similar to scenario 1 but can be extended to the hitter's desire. It's important to remember that big swing flaws will not be fixed here either, but subtle corrections could pay off in games to follow. Start with making sure the stride tempo is the same as well as the distance. Whether you have a wide or narrow stance, consistency with tempo and distance is crucial for all hitters.
  3. After working on your stride, move to full swings with either a dowel rod, Rebel's Rack, or medicine ball throws. In this phase the hitter can focus more on the fullness of the rotation, the back foot movement, body posture, etc. Again no big fixes can be expected but repeating a quality swing pattern before jumping in the cage will only help most players.
  4. Once in the cage every player is a little different than the next, so this time should be spent focusing on individual needs. In my opinion, a high focus on accuracy at first would be the best approach, as they can make sure both eyes are completely behind the ball followed by a nice swing path upward to the top of the net. Perhaps work some swings to all fields.
  5. After a round or two of accuracy focus, I would get into power moves. Having a few "home run" rounds, especially with younger players, can get the fun level up and the violent swings ready right before the game. Your players will go into the game with an aggressive mindset and have the explosive swing ready to follow. Younger hitters, can pretend to be their favorite hitters in MLB and you might be surprised by what happens.

swing intent

In the end, every baseball / softball player is different and needs to figure out what gets them both physically and mentally ready before games. For some hitters, it could just be as easy as a 10 minute tee session and they are good for the day, while other hitters may need a more structured plan. I know that preparation before games can be tough for most coaches and parents at the youth level. I hope that this might help organize your thoughts on how to get your player's  A+ swing ready and perhaps make some quick adjustments between games. If you have a specific issue like these, please leave a question below and I will be happy to help you out.  Thanks for reading!

--JK Whited, Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

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Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown: Gleybar Torres

For many years, the Chicago Cubs have been building their team around young position players. Many of us know about the young talent that has debuted in the Major Leagues over the past few years including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber. However, The latest buzz includes the Cubs top prospect Gleybar Torres as he was recently traded to the New York Yankees for heralded closer Aroldis Chapman. This deal was interesting in that it found two teams in unfamiliar positions with the Yankees being sellers and the Cubs being buyers. Even though Aroldis Chapman is undeniably one of the best closers in baseball, closers have a limited ceiling regarding their impact on a team compared to a middle infielder with a solid glove who can also hit. Given the Yankees and Cubs respective needs and situations, I think this trade makes sense for both teams. That being said, I wanted to evaluate Torres’ swing as he must live up to the expectations set before him in order for this trade to make long term sense for the Yankees.

Gleybar Torres has some room for improvement with the bat but the good news is that he has plenty of time given that he won’t turn twenty until December of 2016. In the breakdown above, I examine two of Torres’ swings. In general, professional hitters’ movement patterns are consistent given that they have repeated their swing over and over for many years. Torres goes against this trend in that his movement pattern is inconsistent from swing to swing. Torres shows the ability to perform elite movements but has trouble putting those movements together consistently. For instance, Torres displays a great forward load in his first swing but shows a better turn in his second. The consistency of movement is something that we talk a lot about at Baseball Rebellion because it allows the hitter to limit the number of variables in an incredibly reactionary and difficult task.

Being a Yankees fan, I am excited to see the Yankees building around young talent. With time on his side, Torres has a great opportunity to prepare for the Big Apple by grooving his swing and developing his strength and speed over the next couple of years.

Thank you for watching and reading.

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor