InsiderBat – Attack Mode!

Friday, Apr. 12th 2013

Here’s a cool video montage showing the Insider Bat in action.  Get ready to get in Attack Mode!


Keep your hitter in the batter box and off the bench.

Wednesday, Feb. 13th 2013

Injuries are a part of every sport, especially baseball. But, as a parent of a young baseball player, it is difficult to know when to push your child and when to say enough is enough, you’re too hurt to play. In order to tell the difference between an injury that is merely superficial, and one that could be detrimental to the long-term health of our son or daughter, we must become educated. Safety should be the most important part of any athletic activity, and I personally will make a conscious effort to make our readers aware of the ways in which they can make the game safer for their children in future posts.

To start my public awareness push for increased safety in baseball, I would like to point to BaseballThinkTank.com’s Injury Prevention 101 guide. The guide provides information about common and not so common baseball injuries: tendonitis, elbow pain, shoulder stiffness, and ankle injuries. While the articles are informative through the overall quality of information presented, the value of the written text is extenuated through the use of video tutorials about how to care for your young child, if and when the injury bug strikes them. The website also give preventative measures for how to take care of your child’s body, and looks to keep players in the batters box and off the bench. These exercises may be tedious and less fun than other baseball activities, but they are important and can increase the longevity and productivity of your young baseball player’s career. Today’s game has been revolutionized through the use of advanced stats, but all indications have pointed to baseball’s new frontier being improved by the use of science and injury prevention techniques. For the sake of your child, take advantage of the new ways in which you can keep them healthy, and look toward revolutionary remedies to fix age-old problems.


High school baseball tryout advice

Friday, Feb. 8th 2013

Because we focused on how to prepare for tryouts for youth hitters yesterday, we will focus on how to make a team for high school hitters today. HS Baseball Web is a great forum and place to find articles about the current status of high school baseball around the country. Today, I found an article, more of a checklist really, for high school players about how to make their high school team.

Although the article is quite long, high school players will be able to find an abundance of quality advice in its recommendations, and even though the article is directed at players that want to make their high school team, the checklist serves more as a guide for players to improve their game as whole beyond try outs. I will let our readers go through the link to read the entire checklist, but there is one recommendation that caught my eye on the list. Number ten: “Keep a daily diary of what you do at practice and keep notes of your observations. This will help you see the progress you have made.” Not only will this help you keep track of the progress you have made on the field, it will also help you become more of a student of the game. The best players are the smart players, and even though improvement to your technique and talent may go through its own peeks and valleys regardless of your determination, your knowledge of the game is completely indicative of your effort.


The Importance of the Stride: Continued

Thursday, Feb. 7th 2013

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Although the stride in a swing can lead to multiple problems that will counteract the productivity of your swing, the stride is essential in the generating power as a hitter. Many coaches have attempted to take the stride out of swings, and with the old BESR bat, which had a crazy amount of pop, that was ok. With the new BBCOR bats, however, hitters need to generate all the power and energy in their swings that they possibly can. No longer can hitters rely on their bat to generate their power, as a result, the stride is now more important than ever.

I have been a constant advocate for big, but controlled strides, and this is consequently why I am so interested in ISO Baseball’s Stride Trainer. Coaches look to eliminate the stride from young and older hitters swings because of the bad habits that it can create: over striding, stepping in the bucket, opening up immediately with the front toe, or a combination of these flaws. Whatever the case may be, the sooner that you can train yourself as a hitter to have a correct well balanced stride, the sooner you will be able to excel as a hitter. ISO baseball’s stride trainer encourages good form in the stride, through assistance and a limited amount of resistance, while it teaches hitters that the key to a good stride resides in the weight that they place on their back leg. Any use of bad techniques while hitters have the trainer on will result in an imbalance that will make it impossible for the hitter to hit; only the correct form will allow the hitter to take a swing.


Improve your youths reading ability and baseball skill simultaneously

Wednesday, Jan. 30th 2013

One way that I have always said a youth baseball player can improve their game is by reading about the game. However, as we, and most parents of young players know, it is difficult to motivate adolescents to read. But let me recommend a way to get your young player reading regularly about the game they love. BaseballCamps.com provides a blog in which they provide a piece of advice about baseball that is normally from eight to fifteen sentences long. The advice column will improve your child’s baseball knowledge will they learn to love to read.

The blog works for several reasons. To start, the blog is not very long and should be able to keep the attention of the most scattered youths. The advice column takes place daily. Get your child into the habit of reading the blog daily, and, most importantly as parents, read the blog too. Have a conversation with your daughter/son about the piece of advice they read and have them teach what they read to you—it will also give you the opportunity to correct them if they have misunderstood something. After all the best way to learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. Before you know it your child’s baseball knowledge will have increased exponentially, and their knowledge will translate to on field success.


Lessons for linear hitters

Monday, Jan. 28th 2013

I found a hitting exercise that I though would be helpful for all of our readers, regardless of their age. Then I remembered that we have not discussed the difference between a linear hitter and a rotational hitter. And, while we will not discuss the difference between a linear and a rotational hitter today, we will discuss this divergence in school of thought tomorrow, our blog for today—January 28—will discuss a drill that is meant for the linear hitterBeABetterHitter.com has been the source of conversation on this blog before, and I have yet again found a simple and effective method to improve the hand path in a hitters swing.

The drill itself is simple and here is the description from BeABetterHitter.com:

Here’s a drill to emphasize the importance of the hands to the ball. This drill can be incorporated with a soft toss or a short screen. It is very effective even without the luxury of hitting a ball during the drill. Find yourself an old plastic chair, or a bucket with a lid and sit on it. Lock your ankles around the legs of the chair or base of the bucket; This is to anchor yourself into the chair. We want to eliminate the lower body action in this drill. The only thing moving will be from the waist up. Take your bat and get in the hitting position. If you have the luxury of a practice partner, have him toss a ball up into the hitting zone. You should be rhythmic and rock the hands back slightly on time with the tosser’s initial move so that you can properly load the upper body. As the ball reaches the hitting zone fire your hands inside the ball, concentrating on the proper wrist action into and through the hitting zone. You want a Top Hand ‘UP” and Bottom Hand “DOWN” position for your palms at the point of impact. Hit “through the ball” as flat as you can to create a line drive flight.

0423chairdrill

This drill emphasizes what it means to be a linear hitter. The drill places an importance on bat path—a direct A to B motion from your hands starting position to the ball—and builds wrist strength, which is integral in the a linear hitter’s approach. Consequently, this drill is not meant for all types of hitters and needs to be reserved for the right hitter. Once you find that hitter, this drill will prove to be advantageous.


Old school instruments can help new age practice

Wednesday, Jan. 23rd 2013

AnnexBaseballBlog.com has brought up an age-old training method that will easily improve your young hitters mechanics. It’s simple; swing a wooden bat. As discussed in the article—The Importance Of Youth Hitting With A Wooden Bat—there are several mechanical advantages that this can provide your young hitter. A wood bat, as opposed to an aluminum bat that has its weight artificially and evenly distributed throughout the bat, has most of it’s weight concentrated towards the end of the at bat. The mechanical effect: your child will learn to get the front end of his bat through the strike zone faster than they normally would, once he/she switches back to an aluminum bat, through their ability to develop stronger wrists and forearms. Swinging a wooden bat also places a premium on contact. Where as an aluminum bat has a sweet spot that encompasses the entire length of the barrel, the sweet spot on a wooden bat is limited to a much smaller area (See below). Through repetitions with a wooden bat your child will be able to make more consistent and solid contact with an aluminum bat.

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If you want to reap the benefits of having your child use an aluminum bat, AnnexBaseballBlog.com provides a couple of guidelines that will help pick out the right bat for your child. The blog suggests that if you child holds a wooden bat straight out in front of her/him by the handle, and the barrel drops, the bat is too heavy for them. The website also has a bat guide that accounts for a child’s height and weight, and it can make a general suggestion as to what would be the best bat for them; remember, these charts do not take into consideration body fat and can be misleading.


Don’t get tricked when you buy baseball equipment

Tuesday, Jan. 22nd 2013

Many websites devoted to non-partisan baseball equipment reviews can afford to be non-partisan, because they don’t care if you buy a particular brand, as long as you buy a product from their website. The web is littered with baseball equipment reviews but you would be hard pressed to call any of them unbiased. The majority of the reviews you will see online claim that each product is the best, high quality, top of the line product you can buy. Why do I doubt this? Because, most of the product reviews online have been published by product manufactures themselves. Consequently, this is why intelligent consumers, that want the most bang for their buck, need to do their research and make the smartest and most informed purchases they can; baseball equipment is not cheap! I thought I would provide a little help for our readers.

picture of a shifty used car salesman

(Don’t let this man sell you baseball equipment)

On ProBaseballInsider.com, in the Low Liners blog, someone has taken the time to survey professional baseball players and facilitate their recommendations to the public. The survey looks to be anonymous, and therefor players may be able speak freely about their true opinions of baseball gear without retaliation from any sponsorships they may have. The list that the Low Liners blog has comprised is thorough, and current; the list was developed in April of last year; most of the items on the list can probably be bought at a discount going into the 2013 season and can still be considered elite.


Simple swing drill to succinctly suppress silly mechanics

Monday, Jan. 21st 2013

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For today—January 21, 2013—we will discuss a training drill that I discovered on BeABetterHitter.com. For a hitting drill to be “good” it must do several things; it must be simple, creative, and make you practice your technique.  The Grad-U-Weighted Bats Drill from BeABetterHitter.com has all three of these qualities. While the drill is simple because it allows you the practice hitting on your own, the drill is also simple in the way that it may be done with old bats that you have around your house and requires no financial investment.

For the drill you need five bats of varying weight:

Ideally, you need at least three graduating sizes of bats. A tee-ball bat (maybe16 oz. in weight), a Little League bat (approximately 20-23 oz. in weight), and     a Senior League bat (about 27 oz.). You also need a weighted bat, or a device to weight your heaviest bat such as a “donut” or “power fins”. Additionally, you need an extremely light bat, such as the XLR8 Speed Bat .

The drill  uses the idea of pyramid training that is present in weight lifting programs. Begin by stretching out and taking 15-20 swings to prepare yourself. Now, take ten perfect swings—focus on form throughout the entire swing and emphasize the location of your hands inside your body—with the middle bat. Next, take eight swings with the second to the heaviest bat, and after that take six swings with the weighted bat. After that take work your way back down the row of bats and take 8 swings with the second heaviest bat, and 10 swings with the bat in the middle. Once you get done with the bat in the middle, take 12 swings with the second to lightest bat, and then 15 swings with the lightest bat.  The most important part of the drill is that you focus on your form. Through muscle memory and repetition of the drill your form will be solidified and your bat speed will flourish. The drill is meant to be an exercise that is a main stay in your training regiment. Practice the drill every other day, and as the articles creator states, your bat speed will increase exponentially.


Three steps to improve your youth hitter’s confidence

Thursday, Jan. 17th 2013

This week’s edition of youth hitting will look at a drill devoted to the improvement of your little leaguers confidence. Confidence is important at every age, but especially at your child’s adolescence when every strikeout, groundout, or pop out could mean the end of the world in his or her eyes. Mark Muto in Youth baseball: Great batting drills has developed a drill with three progressions that is sure to improve your young hitters aptitude and fortitude at the plate.

In Drill 1, Muto places the child’s ability to have confidence in the hands of the parents. You will need a wiffle bat and wiffle balls. Preliminarily, have your child take 8-10 swings, and you will notice that the younger your child is the more consistently your child’s bat path falls along the same plane. Most importantly, this drill is intended for youth hitters that still place a premium on contact. After the 8-10 swings, the parent or adult should throw the wiffle ball to the hitter, while they do their best to put the ball on the same swing path that the hitter showed in their warm up swings, and have them hit the ball.

Drill 2 has more variation involved than Drill 1, is intended for hitters that have proven to make contact with the ball, and will increase overall contact ability. This drill will need a baseball bat and a bucket of wiffle balls: they should be multiple sizes, from baseball size to golf ball size. Now have your hitter try and hit the wiffle balls of varying sizes. They will struggle to make contact at first, but after their focus has honed in you will notice their eyes will always see the ball at the bat.

Drill 3 improves on Drill 2. For Drill 2 you will need a bucket full of golf ball sized wiffle balls and a sawed of broom handle the length of a baseball bat. Throw the wiffle balls to your young hitter as he tries to swing at the balls with the broomstick. Notice that any lapse in concentration will impede the hitter’s ability to make contact. Now, once the hitter approaches the batters box, the baseball will seem four times as big as when they tried to hit in Drill 3.


Establish essential plate discipline

Wednesday, Jan. 16th 2013

Much is made of the ‘five tool player’ in baseball. The player that can hit for power, hit for average, has arm strength, can field, and has the speed to run the bases. However, a tool that is just as important in baseball, and is often overlooked, is the ability to have plate discipline. By the time most hitters reach college or professional baseball, their idea of the strike zone and their approach at the plate has been ingrained into them and cannot be changed. However, QCBaseball.com has provided an excellent training drill that will help establish a correct approach for young hitters.

The drill requires a tee, a throw down home plate, a bat, and can be completed in three easy parts. Here is what the author recommends for Part 1:

Player moves and adjusts the tee to the pitch they like the best and can handle. This is the pitch they would like to hit on a 3-0 count. Have them take a few swings. Now at the same height have them move the tee towards them not going beyond a spot that they still like and is not too far inside the plate. Have them take a few swings and confirm that this is still a pitch they like and can handle. If not move the tee until they have a pitch they like. Then move the tee back to the original spot. Take a couple of swings, now move the tee outside a few inches to find the outside part of the zone for the pitches they really like. Once you have determined the width, then do the same for the height. After this station, the player should have a rectangle of a zero strike-hitting zone.

Once the player has established the zone in which he will swing at pitches with no strikes, the player must find his zone with one strike (Part 2), and two strikes (Part 3). A one-strike approach consists of being ready to swing at any pitch within the strike zone and without reaching for pitches outside of the zone. Part 2 consists of moving the tee around, but still inside, the strike zone so that your young hitter may understand what these pitches look like. A  two-strike approach (Part 3) requires hitters to open up their zone and swing at those pitches that may not be strikes but could be called strikes. Consequently, move the tee around and just out of the strike zone so your young hitter has an idea of what to swing at with two strikes.


A mental approach to hitting

Monday, Jan. 14th 2013

This weeks hitting technique blog will not look at your technique inside the batters box, but outside of it. Connor Powers, on DeadRedHitting.com, looks at how your mental approach is integral to your performance in future at-bats in The Most Overlooked Part of Hitting. Powers acknowledges that the best hitters go through slumps but the attitude that you take after a strikeout may determine your outcome for your next at-bat, even before you step into the box.

Powers suggests that hitters, after their at-bats and regardless of their outcome, take away something good that they did inside the box. Here are Powers’ examples of what hitters can take away from at-bats, even in the direst slumps:

1.  You took your best swing and just missed it(swung through or foul ball)

2.  Took a close pitch for a ball

3.  Took a nasty breaking ball in the dirt

4.  Squared the ball up but didn’t get a hit

5.  Fly ball that you JUST missed

6.  The fact that you are in the game playing(Your Coach has confidence in    you so why shouldn’t you have confidence in yourself?  If you were real going  that bad then you would be riding the pine)

The mental aspect of baseball is an important part of baseball that is very overlooked. For example, the mental game is what separates a talented major league prospect—Elijah Dukes and Lasting Milledge—from a MLB All Stars—Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The faster hitters can learn a solid mental approach to baseball, the more exponential their growth will be on the field.


Unconventional approach batting drills

Thursday, Jan. 10th 2013

Our training drills portion of our blog that normally takes place on Tuesday, and has been delayed because of the wonderful articles that I have found the last two days, will begin right now. Along with my discovery of a wonderful website that I have not encountered before, called BaseballThinkTank.com, I found an even more wonderful video on the website that gives a unique perspective on tee work and an alternative, creative, simple, and effective drill to them. Hunter Bledsoe is the creator of the video called Hitting Lessons: 4 Hitting Drills That Are A Little Outside The BoxHe, along with being able to provide a tremendous amount of baseball insight, is very well spoken and provides outside of the box way to practice hitting.

Bledsoe’s biggest qualm about tee work, or hitting off a tee when it comes to training, is its inability to generate an in game atmosphere and the potential bad habits that it can create. For example, Bledsoe is ultra critical of the way that tee drills always have you look directly down in front of your feet at the tee, as opposed to out in front, and at the pitcher, where the ball is delivered from. His other issue is the way in which hitters develop the bad habit of a front shoulder rotation toward the tee on their load.

Because Bledsoe sees the limitations of tee work in their inauthenticity and hindrance on mechanics, he provides a drill that takes place in a three-step progression with a foam ball. The drill must be done with two people. One person—the lobber—will kneel out in front of the second person—the hitter—on their knees. In the first progression, the lobber tosses the ball to the batter—who is without a bat—and with no lower body movement the hitter catches the ball with the hand that would normally reside higher up on a baseball bat. The first progression teaches a correct path to the ball and promotes vision of the baseball. The most important part is to keep your front shoulder closed when you catch the ball. For the second progression, add a load and the lower half of your swing as your partner tosses you the ball; you still just want to catch it at this point; remember to keep your front shoulder closed! For the last part of the drill—progression three—as the ball is tossed from your partner, punch the ball with the palm of your hand and remember what you learned in the first two steps.

The drill is simple, can be done in small spaces, and is a unique alternative to tee work. Watch Hunter Bledsoe’s video. You will most likely get a better grasp of exactly what he specifically thinks the drill does. However, what the video takes ten minutes to explain the paragraph above provides a brief summary that gets the gist across.


Don’t have a lot of time to practice in the offseason? Here’s the answer.

Wednesday, Jan. 9th 2013

For now we will skip the weekly drills segment of our blog, that was supposed to take place on Tuesday, because of the great articles I found for youth hitting yesterday, if you have not read it check it out, and the relevant blog that I found for today by David Keesee. Keesee, who has been referred to on this blog before, recently wrote a blog entitled Baseball Training Strategy and the Effect of Lack of It. While Keesee believes that there should never be a time when a player does not train, this tactic may be impractical for those high school athletes that play basketball and/or football. However, for these individuals, Keesee makes some suggestions that will keep the rust off players from the long offseason.

Here are the direct ideas that Keesee suggests that players may implement in a minimal amount of time to effectively stay sharp, if they are unable to train all the time as Keesee recommends:

  • Hitters- keep in touch with your swing and your eye for the ball by doing little quick drills like swinging at sunflower seeds, swing at a branch on a bush or doing some of the eye drills I provide for you on the website.
  • Pitchers- Get a couple of sprints in, play a little bit of catch to keep the arm loose or study what major league pitchers strategies are against hitters.
  • Infield/Outfielders/Catchers- Play a little catch now and then, get your workouts and training in (even if its light), watch major league games.

The benefits of Keesee’s suggestions are that they are position specific and allow players to stay sharp in simple ways. However, the often-overlooked aspect of baseball and sports in general that Keesee emphasizes is the learning aspect. The best coaches and players at every level will tell you that they learn something new every day about baseball, that they never new before. If you cannot train year round for baseball read a book about baseball, watch a re-run of an old game, or read articles about baseball online: like this blog maybe? You will be surprised how much you can learn.


Drills to improve common youth hitting errors

Tuesday, Jan. 8th 2013

Upper cuts, slow swings, head pulling, lunging, who has not seen these problems from little league to high school, from the best hitters to the hitters that need a little bit more help? Glimer Baseball.org provides a way for parents and coaches to look at batters, realize their problems, and fix the problems with a problem specific drill. The website is non-profit and their information is helpful more specifically for youth aged players.

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This chart provides a way for parents and coaches of youth baseball, who might not have much experience with the game, a way to correct their young hitters swing without the investment of a lucrative amount of money in training aids. The drills correct prevalent problems in youth baseball in simplistic, yet effective ways. The most unique part about the way they present their material is that it comes in the form of a graph. The graph provides an easy to use guide and an equally coherent procedure to follow when it comes to the execution of their recommended drills.


Tools to improve your bat path

Monday, Jan. 7th 2013

This week’s featured training aid is the Instructo Swing. The Instructo Swing hitting tool forcefully coaches hitters, by the means of the guided rails, to keep their hands in the zone longer, keep their bat inside the ball, and keep the proper swing path towards the ball. The Instructo Swing is adjustable for right handed and left handed batters and can be angled, down, level, and upward. Proper bat mechanics is a fundamental that needs to be reinforced at all levels, and the Instructo Swing does just that.

From my observation, the reviews for the Instructo Swing may be characterized as that of praise. Parents have said that it takes time for there young baseball players to adjust to the mechanics necessary to hit off of the unique tee, but once they are able to adjust their swing path they are able to carry over their newly found swing mechanics into in game situations. The device is relatively expensive at a retail of $169.99 on most websites, but smart buyers will be able to find it used for as little as $49.99.


How to not buckle your knees when you see a curve ball

Friday, Jan. 4th 2013

What troubles most hitters as they adjust from youth baseball to high school baseball is when they face pitchers that can consistently throw curveballs for strikes in a variety of counts. SwingSmarter.com, in Deuce AKA Curveball Smashing 101: How to Hit Tape Measure Shots & Return Your Trays to Their Upright and Locked Positions, has looked to develop a comprehensive way to hit a curveball for hitters. Their article is broken into three parts: technical adjustments, the Zen hitting mental approach, and the three best drills to practice against the curve.

As far as technical adjustments go, SwingSmarter.com stresses the importance of being short to the ball, staying on top, and not letting your eyes drift or drop, all of which are necessary when you hit a fastball or change up, let alone a curveball. The Zen Mental approach that the website suggests wants hitters look to up the middle for their approach, cut the ball out in front—as opposed to what most coaches woul teach, and ‘pick out a window’. The act of ‘picking out a window’ is integral if your hitter ever wants to consistently be able to hit a breaking ball, let alone tell whether or not the pitch is a ball or strike; pay close attention to that one. The drills that SwingSmarter.com suggest to become better at hitting a curveball are helpful because they range from activities that can be done alone, in a limited amount of space, or on a field: self fungo toss, front lob toss, live batting practice. Overall, SwingSmarter.com covers the mechanics, drills, and approach that are necessary if you want your high school hitter to be able to hit a curveball.


Alternative strength training and hitting regiments for youths

Thursday, Jan. 3rd 2013

Last week at this time we devoted our attention to strength training for high school hitters. While weight training should not be implemented for youth hitters, there are several simple, yet effective, ways to build hand, wrist, and forearm strength in youth baseball hitters that will serve them well in the long run. On Yahoo Voices, I found an article by a Coach Mc entitled Simple Tips to Improve Youth Baseball Batting and Hitting. Coach Mc suggests, in order to improve functional strength and bat speed, that parents have their children squeeze tennis balls to improve hand strength (here is a video that I found that demonstrates the action), and use a forearm roller (here is a video of how to make one).  Both exercises are low stress and effective at building functional batting strength.

While Coach Mc suggests limited strength training for youths, he also suggests that repetition is another key to success for youth hitters before they reach the high school level. A common theme amongst youth hitting instructors, when it comes to how to teach hitting, is the idea of station work to improve swings and keep players excited. For example, implement three stations with six kids in each group. All stations should have a coach or parent to facilitate the activity, and it gets everyone involved. At the first station have the kids hit off tees and work on their mechanics. The second station will put the mechanics they just worked on into use through ‘soft toss’. Finally, the third station will look to utilize what they learned in the first two stations with live batting practice. Not only will their swings improve, but time will fly.


Drills to increase plate vision

Wednesday, Jan. 2nd 2013

The hitting drill of the week is the Colored Horseshoe of Baseball, by BeABetterHitter.com. The drill stresses the importance, like many of the websites other drills, of vision in hitting. For this particular drill, take a group of baseballs and color a dot with a sharpie in the horseshoe part of the baseball. Use four different colors for as many balls as you would like. Then have a pitcher throw the ball to a batter, and as the ball comes towards the hitter, have the hitter call out the color of the ball.

BeABetterHitter.com suggests that the hitter not swing at the pitches during this exercise, for safety of the pitcher, but there are other vitiations of the same drill where hitters, along with warming up their vision for in game at bats, can practice their swings.  Take a group of whiffle balls and tape them with athletic tape. Then, like the previous drill, color the whiffle ball with a dot. Use as many colors on as many balls as you like. Then throw the whiffle ball to a batter and have them call out the color of the ball before they swing at it. This version of the drill allows hitters to improve their vision while they practice their contact rate.


A simple, yet clever, drill to develop power

Monday, Dec. 31st 2012

Because our discussion of Baseball Express’ Weighted Ball Set looked at how to improve throwing power through the use of a training aid, I thought that this week’s discussion on training drills should look at how to improve hitting power through the use of unconventional methods. Like the weighted ball set’s use of unconventional methods, this training method, that seeks to improve power a hitters power, may seem rather odd to individuals, but works!

In high school our team had a car tire that was suspended vertically by a wooden post. Players were supposed to hit the tire with a normal swing, and through repetition you would develop greater power by hitting through a heavier object than a baseball—i.e. the tire. While the basic principle of practicing hitting with a heavier target than a baseball is a great idea, hitting a tire does not enable you to judge the quality of your contact with what you are hitting. You hit the tire. The tire doesn’t go anywhere. However, the hitting drill that I found on BaseballCorner.com, while simultaneously building your hitting power, enables you to judge your quality of contact.

Because BaseballCorner.com’s Power Bat Drill has a short explanation, and it would be an injustice to whoever wrote the description in the first place, they do a good job, I have decided to post the drill verbatim:

The purpose of the Power Bat Drill for a baseball player is much the same as a boxer using a heavy bag to train with. Boxers learn how to develop power in their punch by trying to power through the heavy bag. Baseball players learn to develop power in their swing by hitting through a heavier object than a normal baseball. The result is the same for both athletes… increased power through the point of contact!

  • What you will need:
    • A batting tee
    • A plunger
    • A flat soccer ball or basketball
    • A hitting net (or wall)
    • A bat
  • How the drill works:
    • Slide the plunger handle into the batting tee.
    • Place the flat soccer ball or basketball onto the plunger cup top.
    • Execute your normal swing repeatedly.

The goal is for the hitter to strike the much heavier ball without having the bat decelerate at the impact point. This takes proper technique and explosion at the point of impact to achieve. What you will see is that with the first few swings, the barrel of the bat will “stutter” through the impact zone, meaning that it will decelerate at the point of impact for a fraction of a second before resuming its speed to the finishing position. Concentrate on the proper mechanics, not with launching the ball. Proper mechanics will accelerate the bat head sufficiently to power through the heavier ball. The flight path of the ball should be level (around chest high) into the hitting net (or wall). Power is all about bat speed at impact, not the size of the player. This drill will increase the power at impact if it is used on a regular basis. Remember to always use a flat ball for this drill.

The Power Bat Drill combines power with contact to make a better hitter. The nice aspect of the drill is that it is relatively inexpensive and requires objects that most people have at their home—a plunger and an old basketball. Power and mechanics will be at the forefront of youth hitting with the implementation of new BBCOR bats. Because of the new aluminum bats that restrict the trampoline affect that old BESR bats allowed, dills like The Power Bat Drill will enable hitters to work towards a competitive advantage against pitchers.


Hip rotation drills for hitting

Friday, Dec. 28th 2012

BaseballHittingRebelion.com, in one of their most recent blog post, has looked to explain common rotational hip problems that are present in swings. Through the use of videos, the blog post looks at the problem that hitting off of a tee while taking your stance on a 2×4 piece of wood, a common practice implemented by coaches, presents. Chas Pippitt, the blogs proprietor, looks at better and safer alternatives to this drill. In the end, hitters are still able to focus on their rotational hip movement and achieve a greater sense of balance.

Both drills, the 2×4 and Chas’ drill, stress fluid hip movement and balance, and look for ways to address these issues. Mechanically, the blog post and the videos embedded in them look to solve many of the problems facing hitters at all levels. Pippitt looks to show readers and viewers how to use their athleticism in their swings. Because, for Pippitt, athleticism is the source of a powerful swing, hitters must continue to develop and implement their athleticism into their swings.


Thoughtful teaching tips for youths

Thursday, Dec. 27th 2012

SwingSmarter.com is a website devoted to the collection of all things hitting, but for this blog post we will focus our attention on their article entitled Teaching Hitting to Youth in 9 Powerful Steps.  The article develops nine rules to help coaches teach their youth the science of the swing. Among the principles that guide these nine steps, which include keeping it simple, being patient, giving feedback, and the use tee work, the article stresses the importance of being able to relate to your players. Several ways that the article suggests a coach can relate with their players is by conducting drills in small groups that rotate every ten minutes, finding out what your kids like—video games, reading, other sports—and relate your messages through those vessels, and by rewarding them with games for good behavior at the end of practice.

Most of all, the article stresses the idea of keeping it simple for youth hitters, an idea that many baseball players lose track of later in their careers. Keeping it simple offers the opportunity for youth players to make large improvements through simple instructions. When you focus on one or two simple ideas you can increase your ability dramatically, whereas if you focus on ten ideas in a single session your hitter isn’t very likely to remember anything. Base your instruction relative to the age level, and remember that your instruction is supposed to be what is best for the player, not what will win games.


Optimizing the Kinetic Link in the Baseball Swing

Friday, Dec. 21st 2012

ISOBaseball.com’s goal of developing scientific baseball/softball based hitting equipment and instructional videos is shown through their blog post entitled Optimizing the Kinetic Link in the Baseball Swing. ISO baseball looks to describe scientifically the link between kinetic energy and the baseball swing. Simple enough.

To make it easy for our readers I will explain some of the complex topic present in the article. Conservation of momentum is the way that, in a closed system (for our purposes the human body in a baseball swing), the total flow of momentum is constant once it is started.  For example, Newton’s cradle (Figure 1) demonstrates how momentum, once you drop a ball from the left side of the cradle, transfers all the way through the separate but isolated parts of the cradle. Now that we have defined conservation of momentum lets define the kinetic link. The kinetic link is the principle that body segments generate velocity by accelerating and decelerating adjacent links and using internal and external muscle torques applied to the body segments in sequential manners. Sounds like a fancy way to describe hitting a baseball. Now that we know what conservation of momentum and the kinetic link are, we can focus on the hitting philosophy developed by ISO Baseball.

While ISO Baseball uses the conservation of momentum and the kinetic link to describe hitting, the blog post relates these theories on physics to describe hitting a baseball through the metaphor of a whip. The batters legs represent the arm of the whip. The batters upper body—arms, wrists, hands—are the long tail of the whip. In the way that the power generated by a whip starts at the arm of the whip, the power generated by a baseball swing starts at your legs. It only makes sense that the power you generate from a swing starts with the largest muscles in your body, the legs. The power and momentum is transferred from your legs to your hands and is done through the conservation of momentum. The upper parts of the body are not used to generate momentum, but your arms, wrists, and hands are merely there to facilitate the energy created by your legs to the baseball.For ISO Baseball, hitting a baseball is the kinetic link, and the process that facilitates the action and momentum through your body is the conservation of momentum.

ISO Baseball makes an analytic leap between the conservation of momentum and the kinetic link that gets to the science of the swing. Through the application of scientific theories to baseball mechanics, the baseball world may be able to teach the game more effectively by understanding it more closely.


New bats reduce high school power game

Thursday, Dec. 20th 2012

Where aluminum bats use to accelerate the speed of baseball, new BBCOR (batted ball coefficient of resolution) bats have placed the speed of the games in the hands of the players. J. Mike Blake and Tim Stevens wrote about the new regulations for high school aluminum bats in an article entitled New bats reduce high school baseball power game. The article discusses the direct affect new bats have had on baseball in Smithfield, South Carolina, while it also indirectly addresses the long term affects the new bats will have on high school ball. While new high school regulations of aluminum bats have caused a decrease in offensive numbers for this particular district in South Carolina, the regulation of aluminum bats will have a correlation towards better mechanics at the high school level, for the future.

The article New bats reduce high school baseball power game addresses, through statistical means, the pernicious effect new BBCOR bats have had on high school baseball offense. Where as BESR bats, the old standard measurement for aluminum bats, measured the speed of the baseball after it was hit, new BBCOR bats, the new standard, measures the bats bounciness or trampoline affect. BESR measurements and restrictions were deemed ineffective and hazardous. BESR allowed bats to propel baseballs at a maximum of 97 MPH, but studies indicated that a bat’s BESR increased after the bat had been used, sometimes by 10 to 15 miles per hour. As a result, for safety reasons, the National Federation of State High School Associations changed the standard in January for metal high school bats. Smithfield-Selma coach Mike Joyner said his teams usually hit 30 or more home runs in a season. This year, they’ve hit five. Joyner’s teams have traditionally batted .315 in recent years, but his team has only batted .268 this year.

The new restrictions on aluminum bats have caused teams to develop different offensive strategies, but these bats will ultimately cause better mechanics for hitters. The News Observer article said the new aluminum bats have caused teams to adjust their in game strategies, and coaches are more likely to sacrifice bunt to set up a scoring opportunity. Smithfield-Selma shortstop Max Schrock said, “You see a lot more bunting, a lot more hit and runs.” Without proper mechanics to create runs with new bats, coaches have had the knee jerk reaction to try and create runs on their own. However, some believe that there is another way to view “small ball.” The run probability with a runner on first and no outs is .953 runs per inning. The run probability with a runner on second and one out—where a base runner would be after a successful bunt from first to second—is .725 runs per inning, and worse than the alternative of not bunting (run probabilities take for The Book by Tom Tango. Instead on small ball techniques, coaches should be motivated to teach their players correct batting techniques to generate offense. Hitting will take time to catch up to the new bats. But, once hitting catches up, the level of high school baseball batters will have risen as well.

New aluminum bats have changed the landscape of high school baseball. This change, for the short term, has had a negative affect while coaches try to manufacture runs in foul territory next to third base. For the long term, the future of high school hitting is bright. Over the next decade there will be several shifts in high school baseball. For now, pitchers have found success while hitters adjust to new aluminum bats. Once hitters do catch up, batters will surpass hitters because of better fundamentals and coaching techniques that are more advanced than their counterparts.


10 Tips For Baseball Parents

Wednesday, Dec. 19th 2012

David Keesee is a self-asserted “world-class coach, motivational leader and former professional player.” Keesee is the proprietor of AllAspectsBaseball.com, in which he offers training tips for on and off the field. This weeks youth hitters blog subject will focus on a blog post that Keesee made and is entitled 10 Tips for Parenting in Baseball. While Keesee does not directly write his post for youth hitters, the post is an article that all baseball parents should read and keep in mind for their child’s formative baseball years.

Keesee’s 10 Tips for Parenting in Baseball all revolve around the idea of perspective. When I say perspective, I mean to say awareness. Be aware of the importance baseball has for your child, and not you personally.  Keesee does not categorize his ten tips in any order of importance but does end his list with (10) leave the ego out. Keesee says, in order to reinforce the perspective that is necessary when you are a parent of a baseball player, “Remember, this is not about you.  It’s about your child.  Its about them having fun playing the game and using the game as a vehicle for learning life lessons.” Although this is Keesee’s last piece of advice, it is the structure for his lesson.

Keesee uses his first nine pieces of advice to either directly or indirectly stress the importance that a fun atmosphere can have on a baseball player. (4) Create a free environment, (5) Make sure they want to play, and (7) Have a good attitude are the direct ways that Keesee tells parents a positive atmosphere can have profound effect on their children. (1) Find a personal coach, (2) Get involved, That’s right! Get involved, (3) Learn with your child, (6) Make sure they are put in positions to win, (8) Don’t always blame the team coach, and (9) Make sure the priorities are in line are indirect ways that Keesee believes a positive atmosphere can be created around children and improve their baseball abilities.

Lets analyze an indirect, and commonly overlooked, way that Keesee believes a positive atmosphere can be created by a parent: (6) Make sure they are put in positions to win. Here are two examples. One, a parent decides they want their child to pitch. The child goes out to pitch, struggles, and decides they don’t want to pitch anymore.  Two, a parent decides that they want to play their child up a level with the thirteen year olds when they are only twelve so they can gain more experience. The child struggles at a higher level and doesn’t want to play baseball anymore. What do both situations have in common? In each case, a parent’s lack of perspective about their child’s abilities creates a destructive atmosphere. A better approach: Have your child try and pitch, but suggest to the coach that you might want it to happen in a game where the team will surely lose. What’s the difference between a ten run and a fifteen run loss? I doubt your child will be able to tell if they give up the last five runs.

Perspective, Perspective. Perspective. As a parent, make choices that will create a positive atmosphere around your child and set them up for success. David Keesee’s 10 Tips for Parenting Baseball are not age discriminative, but are applicable to all ages of baseball players through its overarching theme of creating a positive atmosphere through the use of perspective. Yogi Berra said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” Parents should want to help their children with the largest part of the game, and David Keesee’s advice is one way to start.