Results tagged ‘ Kwik Trip ’

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: Pop and Glide, See the Ball Before You Stride

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

POP AND GLIDE, SEE THE BALL BEFORE YOU STRIDE

In a previous post, I discussed how important it is to have excellent timing and control of the bat if you ever expect to be a good hitter. Now I’m going to discuss a very specific component of timing that is often misunderstood and unfortunately often taught incorrectly.

If you’ve been around coaching for a while you may have heard the expression, “When the pitcher shows you his pocket, you show yours.” That’s a pretty good visual meant to describe the timing of the pitcher lifting his stride leg and the hitter assuming the load-stride phase of the swing. In general, that’s solid advice but I think it’s flawed. Let me explain.

I’ve spent a great deal of time watching video over the years and made it a point at a recent Spring Training game between the Brewers and the Angels to confirm or disprove this critical teaching point. What I saw was exactly as expected. The hitter’s stride foot does not plant until the ball is in flight.  If we step too early, the “kinetic chain” is broken and power will be lost…a bad thing. If the stride heel plants a fraction of a second before the swing is launched, there is a maximum transfer of power…a good thing. What makes this especially difficult to achieve is that a  90 mph only takes .44 seconds to reach the hitter. Talk about a small window in which to get “on time.”

Braun

So, here’s my problem with the “pocket-showing” strategy.  It doesn’t take into account that (a) not every pitcher’s delivery is the same. Some guys are slower to the plate than others and (b) not every pitch is delivered at the same speed. Clearly, if the first guy you face is throwing 60 mph and the second guy is throwing 80 mph, using the back pocket as the timing trigger will almost certainly cause a break in that kinetic chain…a bad thing.

It is better to be early than late but our goal should be to get the front side down on time. If anyone questions that, just ask any pitcher what he’s trying to do to the hitter. His answer: Mess with the hitter’s timing. If that front foot heel comes down too early or too late, advantage pitcher.

So, what is the hitter’s strategy to stay on time? That’s what the on-deck circle is for. Take a look at pro hitters and see them trying to get their timing down before they step in the box. And make sure that when the heel plants you are balanced. Don’t lean back. Don’t get out over your front side. Take another look at Ryan Braun’s picture for a textbook shot of what a hitter should look like prior to the swing. If you were expecting gas (fastball) and got Uncle Charley (off speed) as long as you are balanced with good posture and your hands haven’t leaked forward, you can still drive the ball.

Hitting is about constant adjustment and nothing is more critical and ever changing than proper timing. “Pop and glide, pop and glide. See the ball before you stride” is an old timers’ verse to remind hitters that the foot comes down as the ball is in flight. Still good advice.

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

Tim’s Tips: Bat Speed or Bat Control…Which is King?

Last week, 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 Bat Speed/Bat Control.

Enjoy!
-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

BAT SPEED OR BAT CONTROL…WHICH IS KING?

It’s Monday morning in Maryvale and I’m doing one of my favorite spring training activities. That is, watching batting practice. The team is taking BP on the game field this morning and I’m reminded of an animated conversation last night about hitting…specifically, about bat speed versus bat control. I leave the religion and political conversations to others. But bring up hitting and it’s “go time.”

Anyway, I was asked to confirm a dad’s belief that bat speed is the single most important component of hitting success. I understand dad’s beliefs because I get asked about bat speed all the time. And it is obviously vital for success at the plate. But the obsession with increasing swing speed as the most important thing a hitter does is generally wrong. Here’s why.

If a hitter swings the bat at a heretofore unattainable 150mph (no one can) but fails to get the four inch sweet spot to the right place at the right time, the best result he can expect is a mis-hit. But the most likely result is a whiff.  Conclusion: Great bat speed without great bat control and timing is pretty close to meaningless.

Remember that one of the absolute goals of every swing is to generate maximum power at the point of contact. Clearly, bat speed is critical but not at the expense of accuracy and timing. A “Happy Gilmore” walking hack might generate great bat head speed but unless you’re playing slowpitch softball, the result will not be good. The good news is that that correct mechanics will not only lead to control of the bat but is the single most important thing a hitter can do to increase bat speed.

Alex Gonzalez shows how perfect timing results in maximum force at contact.

Alex Gonzalez shows how perfect timing results in maximum force at contact.

Why does watching the Brewers take BP remind me of the importance of bat control? Because every swing they take has a situational purpose. The 3-1 count swing is different than an 0-2 swing. Runner on 3b with less than two outs demands a different approach than 0-0 with the bases empty and so on and so on. As I’m writing, Carlos Gomez is told to hit behind the runner on first base and he does. Next pitch he’s told to drive the ball and he does just that.

Getting the bat head to the right spot at the right time requires unbelievable timing and accuracy and I maintain the most important and the most difficult aspect of hitting. That’s why, at the Brewers Baseball Academy, we use a progressive hitting approach that builds the hitter from the ground up. Over the past winter I did video analyses for over 700 young hitters and we will use that data along with a couple ideas I picked up at spring training to build a hitting strategy for every camper. You can count on it.

Despite all my huffing and puffing about timing and control, until next time, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”

-Tim Rappé

Tim.Rappe@Brewers.com

2012 All-Fan Bobblehead Giveaways

Earlier this year, with our preview of the 2012 promotional schedule, we highlighted our six All-Fan Bobblehead Giveaways and included photos of the Lucroy and Gallardo bobbles.

We now have photos of the Nyjer Morgan bobblehead to add to the mix, so I’m including those below.

Check back here as I will be sure to update this post as we receive photos of the rest!

2012 ALL-FAN BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAYS

1. Sunday, April 22 Brewers vs. Colorado Rockies: Jonathan Lucroy Bobblehead, compliments of Kwik Trip. [Note: 5,000 random bobbleheads will feature Lucroy in the retro pinstripe uniform.]

2. Sunday, May 13 Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs: Yovani Gallardo Bobblehead, compliments of Robert Haack Diamonds. [Note:  5,000 random bobbleheads will feature Gallardo in the retro pinstripe uniform. Also, this is Mother's Day! Make sure you grab an extra ticket for your mom!]

3. Sunday, June 10 vs. San Diego Padres: Nyjer Morgan Bobblehead, compliments of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. [Note: A majority of the bobbleheads will feature Morgan in his batting stance, while 5,000 random bobbleheads will feature Tony Plush "throwing up the 'T'."]

4. Sunday, July 1 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Italian Racing Sausage Bobble, compliments of Klement’s Sausage. [Note: This is also Italian Heritage Day and the Brewers will wear special uniform tops.]

5. Sunday, July 29 vs. Washington Nationals: Bob Uecker Bobblehead, featuring the current Brewers radio broadcaster in Milwaukee Braves catching gear, compliments of Time Warner Cable.

6. Sunday, September 16 vs. New York Mets: Aramis Ramirez Bobblehead, compliments of Wild Impact Marketing. [Note: 5,000 random bobbleheads will feature Ramirez in the Cerveceros jersey.]

As you know, our bobblehead games are some of the most popular of the season, so you’ll want to purchase your tickets early to secure your seats!

Find tickets to these games, as well as other great deals, on brewers.com.

See you there!

-CAIT

johnandcait@brewers.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 377 other followers

%d bloggers like this: