Written By: Chas Pippitt
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 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
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