Results tagged ‘ batting stance ’

Tim’s Tips: Busting One of Baseball’s Biggest Myths

Last month, I introduced to you Tim Rappé, Executive Director of our new Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip, eight separate week-long baseball/softball camps open to youth (ages 6-14) that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer.

Along with signing up for the camps and getting excellent baseball instruction there, every so often, Tim will provide some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. See below for his insight on the batting stance!

Enjoy!
-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

SWING DOWN OF THE BALL!?

BUSTING ONE OF BASEBALL’S BIGGEST MYTHS

I confess. Years ago I preached the importance of swinging down on the ball. It sure made sense when you consider that the hands start at shoulder height and have to hit a ball that is obviously lower than that. So swinging down seemed to make a ton of sense and we sure didn’t want to encourage the dreaded uppercut.

But even as I taught the “swing down” concept, there was something gnawing at me that kept whispering that this just didn’t make the most sense. But I trusted my eyes and the advice that had been passed along to me. Isn’t it true that much of what we teach is because that’s how we were taught? The really good news is that most of that which is passed along remains true. Swinging down on the ball is not one of them. Here’s why:

The top of the pitching rubber is set at 10 inches above the ground. Most baseball pitchers throw the ball from an overhead position. The instant the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, gravity begins to do its thing and a 90 mph pitch decelerates at about 1 mph every seven feet. When the ball crosses the plate it’s traveling diagonally down at about -10 degrees.

So, Coach Tim, what’s your point?

My point is that because the ball is traveling downward when it crosses the plate does it really make sense to swing down to make solid contact? The ANSWER: It doesn’t make sense at all. And thanks to high-speed video we can confirm that, at the point of contact, the ideal swing should be 7 to 10 degrees tilted upward. In other words…an uppercut. Getting the bat head on the same plane as the ball is undeniably the best way to “square up” a pitch. Video confirms that our major league hitters swing up at contact. Braun uppercut

If you are hearing this for the first time, I realize that it may challenge what you were previously “sure” of. New video technology has rocked many of our traditional beliefs. But here’s why you don’t necessarily have to change a thing about how you coach, even armed with this new information. If you are teaching the correct starting position, correct hand path and proper finish, the likely result is a slight uppercut at contact. Mission accomplished.

The uppercut that we see from our young hitters that ends up in a pop up, a top-spin grounder or a whiff is the result of a severe 15-30 degree uppercut that does not match up with the downward angle of the pitch. At the Brewers Baseball Academy we don’t teach kids to uppercut. We teach the correct positioning of the body and the proper swing sequence. The resulting path of the bat head is where it should be…traveling about 10 degrees upward at contact.

The irony is that we want a slight uppercut but we don’t teach kids to uppercut because you will not like the result. Teach proper swing mechanics and the result will be more balls hit on the “screws.” Whether or not you decide to continue to shout out “SWING LEVEL!” to your hitters is up to you. But now you know the truth.

Until next time, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”

-Tim Rappé

Tim.Rappe@Brewers.com

Tim’s Tips: How Important is Batting Stance in Hitting Effectively?

Last month, I introduced to you Tim Rappé, Executive Director of our new Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip, eight separate week-long baseball/softball camps open to youth (ages 6-14) that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer.

Along with signing up for the camps and getting excellent baseball instruction there, every so often, Tim will provide some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. See below for his insight on the batting stance!

Enjoy!
-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

How Important Is Batting Stance in Hitting Effectively?

One of our favorite and most effective ways of demonstrating correct hitting mechanics is to point out how the Major Leaguers, the best hitters in the world, go about their business. Video and photos make believers out of even the most stubborn pupils. But what happens when our professional role models seems to be teaching all the wrong stuff?

Here’s the scene: Our best hitter steps into the batter’s box and assumes a stance that looks like he’s been possessed when what he’s really doing is channeling his favorite player. Probably something he saw in last night’s game or on SportsCenter. Remember the “horror” when our young players decided to mimic our own Craig Counsell?

Counsell stance 1

Here’s my advice to coaches when that happens. Relax. With the exception that I will point out in a minute, what the hitter does with the bat and/or his body prior to the “heel down” position is style and will not necessarily impact his hitting success at all. You might consider letting this part of the hitting process belong to his unique personality. Big leaguers use their stance and pre-swing movement primarily to relax, find a rhythm and prepare for the explosion that’s to come. Kids often get creative in their stances because they think it looks cool. As a coach, you have to decide if this is a battle you choose to fight.

To help make the best decision for your player, keep in mind the three things we must accomplish in every at-bat:

1)      Get the “sweet” part of the bat to the hitting lane as directly and as quickly as possible and keep the bat in the hitting lane for as long as possible

2)      Generate maximum power at the point of contact

3)      Eliminate anything in the pre-swing or swing that prevents #1 or #2

Hitting is so darn tough that our position at the Brewers Baseball Academy is summed up in the question we ask our hitters: “Why would you do anything that might make hitting tougher than it already is?”  Sometimes asking that question works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

So, exactly how do we determine if there is a problem? If the stance and pre-swing movement are considered “style,” when do we start getting serious about hitting mechanics? The answer is at “heel plant.” While we allow creativity in the stance, once that front heel lands, we are very particular about a whole laundry list of key points. If any of them are compromised because of what the hitter has done previous to that, it must be fixed. I could do a whole chapter on what we look for in this position but I’ll save that for a future post.

If the hitter’s stance and pre-swing movement don’t get in the way of the three absolute requirements, you may want to let your hitter “express” himself. However, and this is a BIG “however,” if it does cause him to be out of position at “heel plant” or it causes him to get there at the wrong time, then it must be corrected.

Circling back to our major league role models, what we have found through video analysis is that regardless of pre-heel plant styles, once the front heel lands the position of 95% of big league hitters is remarkably similar. Take a look at where Craig Counsell is when his heel lands. Rock solid.

CounsellC10RS035

So, here’s what we know. The best hitters in the game may exercise their own creativity which, to the untrained eye, can give the impression that hitters have widely different mechanics. But a closer analysis reveals that when that front heel hits the ground, the absolutes are present with just about everyone…certainly with all the best hitters. And also keep in mind that Major League hitters are ridiculously gifted athletes who can afford to get a little crazier with their pre-swing approach because their talent can overcome that craziness…sometimes. Our advice to all hitters, especially the young ones? Keep it simple. Develop your own comfortable approach that serves to prepare you for the very difficult challenge that’s hurling toward you, but don’t let style ever get in the way of getting the job done. Ever.

Until next time remember, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”

-Tim Rappé

Tim.Rappe@Brewers.com

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