Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Rule of Ten Thousand!

Are you willing and are you able to put in the work to improve?  Yes?  Well then.  Do you know what kind of work is required?  I have said, for years.  It takes 10,000 reps to change something in the swing for a hitter.  Here is why.

ARE YOU OPEN TO CHANGE?
Improving something is changing something.  You know what they say about the definition of insanity is when we continue to do the same things over and over but expecting things to change".  An athlete needs to first be open to change to begin to make some adjustments.

KNOWLEDGE IS REQUIRED!
To improve we must know what needs to be fixed and what needs to remain.  This is why lessons are important.  Usually, those of us that give lessons have years of experience with athletes in dealing with this exact thing.  We are good and seeing what you need to change.  We then show and tell you (teach you) about these things.  

UNDERSTANDING IS SO IMPORTANT
Once you know what needs to be fixed you need to understand why and understand how to fix it.  Again, that is what we do in lessons.  We will often give you homework during a lesson.  If you don't understand, ask. 

PUTTING IN THE WORK!
Everything else is relatively easy compared to this part.  We have to work hard which takes repetition and this takes energy and time.  How much?  I say 10,000 swings to make a change for a hitter.  Why so many?

-Prepare
Well, it will take a few hundred or more so you can just get down the routine of the drills you will use to get this work in.  

-Developing Consistency
You MUST perform this skill correctly and consistently.  If not, your "muscle memory" will get completely confused.  You are going to have to think through each swing. This may take about a 1000 swings to get it exactly right.

-Changing Your DNA
Well, of course, you aren't really changing your DNA but you do need to develop this swing to the point it is natural without thought to fully prepare for the heat of competition.  This is the hard part and this is the part that so many fails.  They may put in the first thousand swings but the last 5-7 thousand is the part that really matters.  It might even get a little boring.  Doing something over and over again for 1000's of times but this is the only way you can make this change game ready.  

-On Your Own
Your team practice is very important but most practices are dedicated to team skills and it is difficult to allow time to really work on your hitting.  This type of work requires you to be able to work on your own.  If you want to be great you can't rely upon JUST your practices and lessons.  They are both important but the great players work on their own!

10,000 swings really shouldn't take you that long.  A hitter can get 100 swings in no time at all.  Depending on some factors you could get 100 swings in 10-15 minutes pretty easily.  So, maybe 300 swings in a half hour or a little more.    

So, depending on your age and the skill you are trying to change as some will require less work and others will receive more work, you could get this 10,000 goal completed in 10-15 days of hard work.  

Yes, there are some exceptions to the 10,000 rule but there is not a substitute for this kind of hard work.  This IS what makes the difference between good and great hitters!

COACHES

Have you found yourself thinking or even saying, "We talk about this all the time" or something like this?  This is why the post-game talk doesn't work.  They yelling doesn't work and the teaching from third base coaches box doesn't work.  Skill changes require repetition to the point it changes our DNA.  Telling is just the first part.

Have a great day!
Holly Knight

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Attack Angle & Launch Angle for Hitters

I was doing a lesson yesterday with a hitter at the Legends Sports Academy in Louisville.  They have a device there called HitTrax.  It is a pretty cool machine.  (Legends and HitTrax links are below)  The HitTrax does some fun things like showing where the ball goes on a virtual field.  It is a little like a video game.  However, it does some other things like track Exit Velocity, Distance Hitting the ball and Launch Angle.

I will admit that it took me a little while figuring out all this stuff.  After I worked with four of my hitters and I even hit on it a few times myself, I discovered a few things.
I was noticing the launch angle was really high and it didn't seem to match what I thought was important.  You see, I have been using the Blast Technology for a few years now and my original thought was that the attack angle and launch angle were the same but the numbers the HitTrax was giving me were super confusing.  Then I had a duh moment. Here is what I determined:


  
ATTACK ANGLE
The launch angle metrics are achieved through the HitTrax and is the flight of the ball after contact.  It is based on the concept that 0 degrees is level with the ground and anything negative is toward the ground with the positive numbers indicating the ball "in the air".  The higher the number the higher the flight of the ball.  

I get the attack angle for my hitters through the Blast Device.  It does a great job testing the metrics BEFORE contact and right at contact.  The device is placed on the knob of the bat.  A 0 degree is where the bat is going toward and contacting the ball in a level path.  A negative number is where the path is attacking downward and a positive number is where the bat path is in an upward direction.  We once called this an uppercut.


If you look at the bat path going to and through the ball in the photo to the right, this illustrating a negative attack angle.  

This photo also is showing the path of the ball after contact which is the launch angle.  It is interesting to note, in this photo that  I took from the internet, this is showing a way to achieve backspin.


LAUNCH ANGLE

Yes, so, simply said.  Attack angle is your bat path what we have called uppercut, level swing and chopping for a billion years.  Okay, maybe not a billion years but probably as long as we have had bats and balls.  Like so many things, it is just a new way of saying things.  
Oh yeah, launch angle is another way of saying, ground ball, line drive or fly ball.  
Ultimately, what we need to remember is what our goal is as in what type of hitter we are and that will determine what Launch Angle we are attempting to achieve and the Attack Angle that will help us achieve that.  That is what we work on every day in every lesson.  This information just helps us achieve our goals.

In the orange photo to the right, you will see an illustration describing Launch Angle.  Interesting enough, this does not include the effect of backspin but it does explain Launch Angle.

If the hitter is a slap hitter/speed type of hitter where they want to avoid flyballs and hit a lot of balls on the ground their launch angles should be around 0 to a negative number.  Hitters that are line drive type hitters should be around 10-15 probably and home run hitters could be around 20-30.  Anything over 20 should come from a hitter that has true home run power where they can make mistakes in the air and still hit the ball 200 plus feet.

The "missing link" in all this is the contact point on the ball which is for another day and another blog but generally speaking the attack angle and contact point determines the launch angle...and more.

I hope this helps explain what these two terms are.  Prior to technology being able to measure this, it was always just a visual evaluation but now it is one of the numerous metrics we can test and of which we can learn.  They also help us teach the swing a little better.  However, this doesn't replace hard work, overall knowledge, and experience.  It just helps it.

Have a fantastic day!

Holly Knight


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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Softball Coaches | We DON'T Take our Hands to the Ball!

I hear some of my athletes tell me they hear this phrase on occasion.  I have also heard it a few times over the years and I feel it is a pretty misleading phrase.  A disclaimer first.

We, as instructors, coaches and teachers will use phrases that are not literally accurate all the time to describe what we want our athletes to do.  An example would be, "Keep our eyes on the ball".  Literally, we do not want our hitters to actually do this but to young inexperienced hitters, they hear something very impossible to accomplish.

Keep your hands inside the ball.  This is another phrase that is very difficult for young inexperienced hitters to understand and to grasp but, like the "eyes on the
ball" phrase, hitters will eventually understand what they mean.

So, Taking our hands to the ball could be another "figure of speech" but, to me, it is a phrase that is misleading in a lot of ways.  This seems to be giving instruction for taking our hands toward the ball as we begin our swing.  We don't want to do this of course.  We do want to lead with our hands and go forward but not toward the ball.  We actually want to take our barrel toward the ball.

Over the years I have tried to become more and more literal in what I want my athletes to do.  In these examples above.  I now say "See the ball" or "Watch the ball" instead of "Keeping your eyes on the ball".  To those that are experienced, they all mean the same thing but to those that we teach, they may be confused and confusing our athletes is, of course, not our goal.

I do sometimes use the phrase, "Keep your hands inside the ball" but I make sure I explain it multiple times but mostly, I use the phrase associated with this skill of "Lead with the hands".  This is literally more accurate and is less confusing.

Performing at a high level in this sport is hard enough without us, as coaches, confusing them with phrases that are a bit confusing.  However, if you actually do want your hitters to take her hands to the ball, then, well, you might want to reconsider this approach.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What is Exit Velocity in Hitting?

Exit velocity is the velocity, in miles per hour, the ball travels off the bat.  It is a great metric to determine power.  The higher the velocity then the faster the ball is moving. It is usually tested on a batting tee with a radar gun in order to be consistent with all testing for comparison reasons.

Using exit velocity to test hitter's ability has been around a little longer than some of the other metrics and is a pretty good indication of potential power.  Actually, if you define power as to how hard the ball comes off the bat, it is the best indicator of the potential power of all metrics.  I say potential since it is an evaluation based on hitting on a batting tee and hitting for power in a game, includes factors such as timing and accuracy.

This is just an estimate and I am sure, with some math, someone could figure it out but I estimate it takes a minimum of 70 miles per hour to hit a softball 220 feet (the distance to the CF Fence at Oklahoma City where the College World Series is played).  So, to have college-level power where the hitter would be a home run threat I would say at least 80 and more like 82 Miles per hour off of a batting tee would be the benchmark.  If you want to see some of the exit velocity metrics we have tested already for comparison, click here.  The top velocity at the writing of this blog is 80 for a 17-year-old.

It is important to note that we can increase exit velocity by swinging hard and a little long when tested on the tee but this is usually a problem in game conditions.  This is one of the main reasons I refer to this metric as an indication of POTENTIAL power.

What is the difference between Exit Velocity and Bat Velocity?  Well, Bat Velocity is a new metric that determines how fast the BAT is moving before contact.  Exit Velocity is how fast the BALL is moving after contact.  Both are related and both are important.

Want to know your exit velocity or how to improve your exit velocity?  Well, I test Exit Velocity every 4-6 weeks for my lesson clients and we work on this every lesson.  More about Lessons With Holly.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Training Your Hands As An Elite Hitter

A concept that I try very hard to get through to my hitters is the concept of training their hands.  Training our hands requires three mentalities.  

IF WE FAIL TO HAVE A PLAN WE PLAN TO FAIL

One of my favorite quotes.  When we practice we must have a plan.  It can be to work on a weakness or weaknesses, improve upon a strength we have or maintain our swing.  "Just" hitting is not a plan.  

NO COMPETE CLAUSE

We are competitive people and athletes are some of the most competitive people so we automatically get in our competitive mode when we are performing our skills, such as hitting.  Especially when there are others around that may see us.  I know I am still this way years after I have retired as an athlete.  I still will hit on a batting tee and if I know others may be watching I have a tendency to switch in competitive mode and attempt to perform at my highest level.  This is who we are and is understandable.


However, when we are working on our plan we often need to shut down our competitive instinct because when we are working on our weaknesses, which we need to do most of the time, we will often not have our best swings and feel like we are failing.  We need to attempt to do this work in a mental vacuum where no one is watching us and we are okay to struggle with some things as we work on our weaknesses.  

LET'S GET UNCOMFORTABLE

There are drills that can make us uncomfortable such as the high tee drill or the double tee drill.  I use two related drills that I call "inch drills" where I will inch the tee closer to me or farther forward.  The closer inch drill will make a hitter very uncomfortable but are great for working on staying inside the ball.  

So, if you can operate your hitting sessions in these three mentalities you will be able to Train Your Hands as an Elite Hitter.

Here is an example.  Many hitters struggle with a long swing and will roll over too often.  To fix rolling over we have to stay inside the ball a little longer to help us hit through the ball.  We can do this three ways.  Just make a physical adjustment, work some drills or attempt to hit the ball to the opposite gap.  In other words, a right-handed hitter would work on hitting the ball to the right-center field gap.  

Hitting to RCF can be a strategy, an approach or a mistake but I love it for training your hands.  When we hit the ball well to the opposite gap (with backspin) we MUST stay inside the ball and we MUST lead with our hands.  Let me clarify, THIS is a drill.  It is an approach for improving your swing and not necessarily the approach for the game.  It can be and is sometimes a great game approach, but is usually not.

Using this approach a lot, and I do use it a lot, will help train the hands to do exactly what we want them to do.  Short and first.  The more we hit the ball to the opposite gap the more we train our hands.  This will actually help us pull the ball on inside pitches without even practicing a lot on pulling the ball on inside pitches.  How can this be you ask?  Well, that is for another blog or a Lesson.  :)  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

What is Bat Speed for Softball Hitters

Many people refer to the velocity metrics that are measured by Miles Per Hour of the bat swing as Bat Speed but, to be consistent I call this Bat Velocity.  Blast Technology refers to the metrics that are measured by split seconds as Time to Contact.  I refer to this metric as Bat Speed. Again, for consistency purposes.

This is a relatively new technology where we have the ability to determine how fast the bat is moving in miles per hour and in split seconds.  I use Blast Technology for my testing.  It is a small device that connects to the knob of the bat and will determine many metrics of which one of them is Bat Speed.

One of the amazing things you will notice immediately is how quick the bat actually moves in the swing.  Even young hitters are recording swings that are less than .20 of a second.  Think about this.  A 10-year-old hitter can swing a bat in 2 tenths of a second. I have had some hitters at .14 seconds.  This is really amazing to me.

I am not great in determining how quickly the ball is getting from the pitcher to the plate but I understand it is about .40 of a second for youth pitchers around 14 years old.  So, the hitter that has a bat speed of .20 seconds will need to determine if the pitch is a strike or not by halfway to the plate before she swings.

I don't want to bore you with all the math.  However, the bottom line is that we are dealing with micro-seconds.  The difference between good bat speed and great bat speed can be as little as .04 seconds.

Why is this important?

The most important aspect of Bat Speed is where the quicker we are the later we can wait before we make a decision if we are going to swing or not.  Bat speed is the main factor in our ability to swing at quality pitches and not swing at bat pitches.

You may have heard of phrases as, "staying inside the ball", "quick bat", "leading with the hands".  If you have these are all aspects of improving bat speed or creating a short swing.  We have been teaching this concept for many years and now we can measure it pretty accurately.  It is a great tool.

How do we improve Bat Speed?

Obviously, improving our swing mechanics is really very important to improve Bat Speed.  This is the first area I will attack as an instructor.  A great swing with great hand path and barrel path is critical in improving bat speed.  I will do this by just watching the hitter swing, blast technology, and video analytics.  I will tell you also, you do not improve bat speed by swinging harder.  This typically will actually slow down the swing as it will make it a longer swing.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Some Hitting Phrases Explained

The ability to communicate clearly to the athlete is super important for the coach.  However, we often use words and phrases that may make sense to us but really doesn't make sense to the young hitters.  Young minds can be much more literal than our older minds.  Here are some examples:

"Staying Inside the Ball"
This is pretty confusing I think to a lot of young hitters if they are taking it literally.  What it means is that as the ball is making its approach you start yo
ur hands forward and you "stay" inside the path of the ball early in your swing.  Inside is the side of the ball that is closer to you.  Outside is the side of the ball that is on the other side.  Obviously, your hands never get outside the ball and will always stay inside the ball.  The "staying inside the ball" phrase is referring to early in the swing as the hands go forward with the intent of the hands to stay close to the body. 

"Lead With the Hands"
This really means the same thing as staying inside the ball.  It means we take our bottom hand (the hand closest to the knob of the bat) forward toward the pitcher.

"Lead With the Knob"
I am not a big fan of this phrase as this kind of implies we take the knob forward as it really isn't pointing forward early in the swing as it is slightly pointing down.  However, it is really close to Leading with the hands.

"Take your hands to the ball"
I believe this was something that someone misinterpreted from the leading with the hands.  We do NOT want to take our hands toward the ball.  We take the barrel toward the ball and our hands forward. 

"Take the knob to the ball"
Again, no we don't.  This should not be taught!

So many of phrases we use are to describe a short swing and we continue to try to come up with ways to verbalize this hitting approach. 

More terms coming soon...Don't forget to subscribe to my blog!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Applying Rust-oleum To Your Swing!

Okay, yes, Rust-oleum is a brand of paint that we apply to metal objects to keep them from rusting.  So, I am taking some liberties but you probably get it, right?  


The swing gets rusty.  No, it doesn't get reddish in color.  What I mean by a rusty swing has two components.  One is that the swing was once pretty good (subjectively speaking) and then it now is not very good (subjectively speaking).

Let me clarify a little more.  As a hitting instructor I have noticed that when a hitter misses a few weeks in coming to some lessons, they just don't seem to make the quality of contact as they did before.  You ask, what is the quality of contact?  I am glad you asked.  To me, it has the following:

  • The ball has backspin.  Yes, I am a nut about backspin.
  • The ball is middle-middle.  This means, to me, that the ball is hit toward the middle of the field and in a line drive so the barrel is making contact in the middle (horizontal)-middle (vertical) of the ball.  (I often break this down to two components as a hitter)
  • The ball is hit with some authority.  Now, this is relative to the hitter but did she hit is hard.
  • Sound.  The sound is actually the result of all of the above but I base a lot on how well the ball sounds off the bat.
So, when a hitter misses a few weeks of lessons and then seems to struggle a little with these components of quality of contact, I determine they are rusty.  When they are rusty my approach converts to more of a "starting over" lesson to help get them back to where they once were.  

What causes rust in the swing.  Okay, to get a little deeper into this.  What I think happens is the hitter just get long when she is rusty.  Think about it.  It seems 90% of all the drills that have been invented are to create and maintain a short swing.  I also have the theory that it is natural to have a long swing.  So, when a hitter stops working on their swing, they get long...er.  longer.  

So, we start over and work on getting the swing back to a shorter approach and then eventually she gets back to a higher percentage of quality of contact.  Usually.  I say usually because if she is really rusty and she doesn't take the "starting over" approach, she won't.  

Okay.  So, the cause of rust is the lack of quality work on the short swing.  Do they have to take lessons to avoid rust?  Of course not.  What they must to, to avoid rust, is to continue the smart intelligent consistent work on the short swing.  If they can't do this without lessons then they need to get back to lessons.  It is just my observation that hitters that take off a few weeks of lessons almost always come back rusty.  

Tips to Avoid Rust:


  1. Home Work:  Most instructors use drills during the lesson and/or give "homework" through drills to the hitters.  These drills are intended, probably, to teach the short swing.  Work on these drills at home and do them correctly.  If you do not know how, contact your instructor.
  2. Team Practice:  Okay, most youth teams do not have the ability to focus on every hitter and their weaknesses and will typically just have some form of "batting practice".  This may not have any structure to it at all with the focus on the swing path.  It is up to the hitter to work on the things their lesson instructor teaches during the batting practice.  If you "just hit" and not FOCUS on a short swing, you will revert back to a long swing.  
  3. Don't take off.  As a college coach, I had a rule that a hitter could not take off more than one day of drills during the season.  Of course, the college level requires a higher level of precision so a younger hitter can take off a little longer time but I would recommend AT LEAST one lesson a week if you are not doing well with numbers 1 or 2 above.

Hard work includes sweat, yes but it also includes persistence, consistency, and frequency.  (Quality AND Quantity)

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Is the Softball Swing Different Than the Baseball Swing and Why It Matters



Okay.  Let's get right to it.  Here are some obvious similarities;
  • The main goal is to score more runs than the opponent.
  • The field alignment looks pretty much the same.
  • There are visitors and home teams.
  • There are innings.
  • There is a ball, a bat and gloves.
  • There are umpires.
  • There are big hits, diving catches, slides that avoid tags, fielding errors, and the infield fly rule.
  • there are a lot of easy and quick similarities.
Some Obvious differences::
  • The softball is larger.
  • The softball is yellow.
  • The softball bat barrel is thinner.
  • The softball bat is lighter.
  • The distance from home to the outfield fence is much shorter in softball.
  • Softball has cheers and chants from the dugout as baseball typically does not.
  • The infield in softball is all dirt where the typical baseball field has grass or turf.
  • The distance to the bases is shorter in softball.
  • The distance from home to the pitching rubber is shorter in softball.
  • Softball pitches from a flat surface as baseball pitches from a mound.
  • There is a circle of chalk around the pitching rubber in softball.
  • Oh yeah, the teams in fastpitch softball are females and in baseball they are males.
There are many other differences in the game but overall, it is probably 90%ish the same game.  Don't you agree?

The two biggest differences that I see in the perspective of the hitter in the game of softball vs baseball:

TIME TO REACT

According to this site, a pitch of 70 MPH from the pitcher's mound takes about .35 seconds to reach the plate and a pitch of 90 MPH from a baseball pitcher takes about .44 seconds.  Now, before we go on, let me comment on these numbers:
  • 70 MPH is achieved by some of the very top pitchers at the college level and even then, not a lot of them throw that hard.
  • 90 MPH is actually achieved by a lot of top college pitchers and many throws harder.  
  • So, we could probably assume that most hitters are facing around 65 MPH in Softball and around 95 in Baseball.  This isn't significant but does make the speeds a little more similar.
  • However, it is probably, on average, a little quicker for the ball to get to the plate from the typical fastpitch pitcher.  This IS significant.  
RELEASE POINT

Obviously, the release point is lower in softball than baseball with the possible exception of some submarine pitchers in baseball.  This is significant for a few reasons in my opinion.  
  • Fastballs that are above the release point will be moving in an upward movement.
  • Fastballs below the waist will have a sinking motion due to the spin of the ball and the release point.
  • This makes both of these pitches very difficult to hit squarely with the barrel.
These are the main areas that I believe are very different or more of a challenge for the softball hitter.  Overall, the only real issue from these differences is based on how quickly the softball hitter gets the bat to the ball or, in other words, bat speed.

With this said, the pitch from a baseball hitter is also very fast and the baseball hitter also needs a very high level of bat speed.  So, at this point, I don't see much of a difference other than a possible stronger emphasis on bat speed for the softball hitter.


FACING A PITCHER FROM THE OTHER SPORT

Have you seen where a baseball hitter has tried to hit a good fastpitch pitcher?  I have.  It is usually ugly where the hitter fails.  However, I have also seen where the softball hitter has tried to hit a good baseball pitcher.  Same results. Failure. 

Here are some 2019 Statistics as of April 19th...a little over half way through the season:

TOP BATTING AVERAGES-INDIVIDUAL

Softball | Courtney Cashman | UMass Lowell | .531
Softball | Rachel Anderson | Southeast Mo. State | .492
Softball | Kelli Godin | UCLA | .487
Baseball | Alsander Womack | Norfolk State | .463
Baseball | Nick Gonzales | New Mexico State | .448
Baseball | Patrick McColl | Harvard | .445

TOP BATTING AVERAGES-TEAM
Softball | Oklahoma | .371
Baseball | New Mexico State | .367
Softball | George Washington | .358
Softball | UCLA | .347
Baseball | Penn | .340
Baseball | Arizona State | .325

TOP HOME RUNS PER GAME-TEAM
Softball | Arizona | 1.95
Softball | Oklahoma | 1.88
Baseball | Indiana | 1.78
Softball | Virginia Tech | 1.76
Baseball | New Mexico State | 1.75
Baseball Tennessee Tech | 1.61

Obviously, this is very limited numbers of which to draw a conclusion but I believe these numbers are somewhat typical.  Overall, statistically, it looks like the softball hitters do well against their softball pitchers however, the numbers are basically pretty close.

Let me get directly to my conclusion.  IF hitting a softball was much more difficult than the baseball numbers would all be consistently higher.  They are not and in fact, a bit lower. 

I don't believe one is more difficult than the other.  One thing you know as a hitter.  It is difficult to hit something you haven't seen very much as a hitter.  I believe that if you had the top fastpitch hitters spend the same time hitting a baseball, they would eventually get used to the different release point and timing.  I also believe the guys would eventually do the same.  

WHY IT MATTERS

Some Reasons Why It Matters

First, a truth:  Major League Baseball has a ton of money invested in their hitters and each hitter has a ton of money, sweat and time invested in their skill.  These resources have been directed toward the understanding and teaching of the skill of hitting at the highest level possible.  

Why it matters:  If the swing is the same than we in the softball world can benefit from these resources.  We can benefit from the terminology, the drills and the experiences of both sports.

Join Gap to Gap Radio on Monday at noon (Eastern) where Holly will talk about this topic in a little more depth.  LISTEN HERE
  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Embrace the Grind | Embrace the Journey

It is getting really close to the opening day for Softball and Baseball and as I was watching a sports channel talking about spring training I heard a Hall of Fame baseball player mention that one of the things about the first day of spring training is that is the only day your body feels good. 

The professional baseball season is long and is a physical grind with a lot of banged up and bruised bodies.  What he said is true and I have heard it from many players.  These guys have to perform at the highest level despite really not being 100% physically.  They have to endure and persist through the pain.  They actually learn to embrace the grind instead of avoiding or hating it. 

I think many of us believe and expect the journey to achieve goals should be comfortable or easy.  In fact, I believe that the higher the goal such as running a marathon or succeeding in professional sports, the journey is very much uncomfortable.  There is pain, fatigue, and sacrifice.


When I was coaching at one of the college jobs I had, a coaching colleague of mine walked into the gym after a run.  I asked her how her run went and she said it was good but it started to rain in the middle of the run.  I knew it was kind of cold out and asked her if she just cut her run short, she said, "if I avoided my run every time the weather was uncomfortable I wouldn't be able to run the marathon".  

If it is losing weight, getting that promotion or getting that degree, it isn't easy and a lot of it can be uncomfortable..a grind.  These people achieved through the knowledge they had to embrace the grind and embrace the journey.  


Don't let the rain keep you from staying on your journey.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

COMING SOON! | GAP TO GAP RADIO

Gap to Gap Radio has two main goals to accomplish our mission:
  • To get to know the guest better if that be the coach, administrator or athlete.
  • To learn more about the organization.
MISSION

In the same way, Gap to Gap Hitting narrows the focus we want to narrow our focus on the important aspects of the game of Softball to help the athlete achieve her diamond goals. 

The show will typically be aired each Monday at noon eastern time however, we may have to make adjustments to the schedule on occasion.  If we do, we will make it very clear the revised date and time.

The format will usually be a one-on-one interview between the Gap to Gap host, Holly Knight, and her guest for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The show will be aired live and listeners will be able to call in live with questions and/or comments.  You, the listener, will be able to listen on your PC, phone or Ipad live but it will also be recorded if you miss the live show.

HOW TO LISTEN

Go to our Blog Talk Radio Page at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gaptogap.  The upcoming show should be very visible.  You will not be able to listen until the show begins.  Some other ways to Listen:
More details at National Diamond Academy

If you have any questions just let us know!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

When Does a Hitter Have Dingeritis?

I believe I invited this word.  Honestly, I think I did.  At least I started using the word about 30 years ago and I haven't heard it used before that.  Anyway, the word is dingeritis or, in other words, the illness of hitting home runs.

Last week I was finishing some hitting lessons and was impressed with this little boy in the batting tunnel next to me and maybe even more impressed with his Mom.  He was six years old and squaring up the ball with line drive after line drive.  He had a great looking swing.  I complimented the little guy and then complimented the Mom to take the time on a Sunday afternoon to throw his son batting practice.  It was clear she didn't know what she was doing but she was out there throwing to him.  Impressive all the way around.

Anyway, after I sent the compliments I told her that I have seen a lot of young hitters with some great swings until they learn what a home run is.  Then, their swing gets bad.  They get dingeritis.

Dingeritis is, as I said, the illness of home runs.  Not the illness of hitting home runs but the illness of trying to hit home runs.  There are three simple components to dingeritis:
  • Trying to Lift the ball.
  • Trying to Pull the ball.
  • Trying to Hit the ball as hard as possible.
I have spent a career working on hitters to fix dingeritis.  I often ask my hitters, "you know why I know so much about dingeritis?"  I tell them because I had it.  My whole desire was to lift, pull and mash.  As a left-handed hitter, I swung for the fences.  Actually, I swung for right-field fence.  When I learned how to cure my illness of dingeritis then I became a much better hitter.  When those hitters I work with learn how to cure their dingeritis, they also become much better hitters.

Let me make this next point perfectly clear.  Home Runs are not bad.  Home Runs are great and most successful college teams will have at least one or two "home run hitters".  In over 500 college wins as a head coach and many championships, it was rare to have a successful team that did not have at least two home run hitters in the lineup.  So, to continue my effort to be clear, I like home runs.  In fact, I love home runs but when a hitter swings "for the fences" that hitter will rarely succeed.  It causes hitters to be way too long and will roll over, miss quality contact, get jammed and create a poor strike zone.

There are ways to defeat Dingeritus.  Let me know and I can help.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Welcome to National Softball Prospects!


National Softball Prospects is business created to assist the athlete and her family with the recruiting process.  We have three main components of this business. 

DIAMOND DIRECTORY
The Diamond Directory is a database of Softball players from all ages.  We feel it is the most powerful database on the market as it is highly searchable and includes a ton of information about the athlete.  This is a huge help for the recruiter.

METRICS
We run our athletes through a series of appropriate metrics such as bat speed, exit velocity, running speed, throwing velocity and pitching velocities and add these metrics to the Diamond Directory.  The college coach then can search based on these metrics and profile details such as a 2020 graduate that plays shortstop with bat speed over 50 MPH and throws over 70 MPH.  Just an example.

RECRUITING VIDEO
The NSP Staff will set up the filming process, do the filming, edit and produce the video.  Yes, you can do this but we have decades of college coaching experience and know what the college coach is looking for in the Recruiting Video.  We will also add the Video to the Diamond Directory where the coach will also see the athletes video along with the metrics.

National Softball Prospects is an LLC under the National Diamond Academy and the main office is located in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Our Website:  www.nationalsoftballprospects.com
Our Email:  holly@nationalsoftballprospects.com
Our Phone Number:  502.262-9195


Monday, January 14, 2019

Extend the Life of Your Bat!

Hello and just a quick tip that I learned about the metal bats years ago when I was spending some time at the Louisville Bat Factory.  In those days the Bat Factory was actually in Southern Indiana and I had a good friend there by the name of Harold.  Harold was very involved in the creation of the aluminum bats at Louisville Slugger and he taught me a lot about how the bats worked.

One of the aspects of the metal bat is the plastic end.  All top bats have the plastic ends instead of just solid aluminum.  There is a scientific basis for this based on the transfer of energy.  It is pretty cool but there is a reason.  This concept taught me a lot about hitting actually and convinced me something about the grip as well.  This is for another blog. 

It is called the trampoline effect.  Back in the 90's when home runs were jumping off the bats at a record pace the bat manufacturers learned that the thinner the wall was at the barrel the farther and faster the ball would come off the bat. 

Actually, during those years the top college programs would get these "loaded bats".  They were legal but they were just better than the other bats that the rest of us would purchase.  These loaded bats were actually considered defects since the walls were so thin but they actually would improve the power of the ball coming off the bats.  These top NCAA I programs would receive these bats with instruction the bats would not last as long as the regular bats so don't use them during batting practice.

See, what happens is the aluminum would collapse and then "trampoline" the ball.  This would eventually cause small stress fractures to the inside of the barrel of the bat.  These fractures would cause a serious loss of power to the bat. 

As far as I know, these loaded bats do not exist any longer but the trampoline effect still exists and the bats will eventually get stress fractures the more you use the bat.  So, for those of you that work  hard at your game and take a lot of swings every week,

I would recommend purchasing some sort of a practice bat.  Something that is the same length of your game bat.  It doesn't have to be a top bat just something you can practice with to extend the life of your game bat

Then, only use the game bat for games but also I would suggest using the game bat for BP the day of the game and maybe even the day before.  There are so many mental factors of hitting and I believe we have a sort of a relationship with our game bat as silly as it may sound.  So, the day before the game you want to re-connect with your game bat.