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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!!”