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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