Tim’s Tip: Moment of Truth #1-Get Set Up to Smash
The “Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip,” 10 separate weeklong baseball/softball camps that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer for kids ages 6-14, will be back for its second season and so is Tim Rappe. In addition to putting on the camps, last summer executive director Tim Rappe provided some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. Read on for more from Coach Tim!
“MOMENT OF TRUTH #1”: GET SET UP TO SMASH
In my last post I talked about the overwhelming value of using video to help your athlete. In our Brewers Baseball Academy summer camps we video the swing of every player. But that’s the easy part. Video is nothing more than a nice keepsake unless it’s transformed into a teaching tool and that takes some serious baseball smarts.
I’ve done over 2,000 swing analyses over the past couple years and I’ve identified four points in the swing that can make or break a hitter’s at bat. It’s those four “Moments of Truth” where kids have a tendency to mess up. I think the reason why these breakdowns occur is because there’s nothing particularly “natural” about these four key points in the swing. Kids don’t fall out of the crib doing them.
That these critical moments in the swing don’t come naturally is the bad news. The good news is that they can be taught.
MOMENT OF TRUTH #1: If you want to finish right, you need to start right. Many of the problems at contact are a function of bad posture at heel plant. What the hitter does prior to the front heel planting is, for the most part, a matter of personal style. However, at heel plant is when hitting instructors start “keeping score.”
Here is a great shot of Carlos Gomez at heel plant and the following six checkpoints are critical to starting a good swing.
- Head up and turned so that both eyes can track the ball. No tilting!!
- Don’t let the camera angle fool you. At heel plant, Carlos’ head is right above his belt buckle and in the middle of his feet. He looks like his weight is evenly distributed front to back
- Knob of the bat is angled toward the catcher’s feet. Barrel is somewhat about his head
- Hands are at shoulder height and at or just inside his back elbow (toward the catcher)
- Knees are inside ankles and flexed in athletic position
- Toes are on a straight line toward the pitcher
Does your hitter have to look exactly like this? Or course not. But all good hitters at heel plant look remarkably similar. So, from our perspective it makes a whole bunch of sense for the Brewers Baseball Academy to make sure our kids understand this. If you start right there is no guarantee you’ll finish right. But, if you start wrong, there is not much chance of finishing right. Make sense?
In my next post I’ll focus on Moment of Truth #2…the first domino to fall in the swing sequence. Until then, if you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.