Can you have too much bat speed?

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Question:

My son just went through the worst possible winter of his playing career. He had worked very hard this past off season to develop some serious “pop” in his bat. We measured his bat velocity while doing some heavy duty overload/underload training. His bat speed really increased and I could really see the pop.
The problem is that it is just in batting practice. In games he wasn’t making contact. When he did, it was a rocket. The first thing that I saw was that he was pulling off theball. The next thing was a loop in the swing. After that I saw the early rolling of the hands and then too much weight passing through center onto his front side. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

It sounds like your son has improved his bat speed and therefore his power. Now, he expects to hit the ball out of the ball park. That may be the problem – he feels he should be hitting the ball out of the park. He is probably over swinging and his effort level is too high.

He must get back to thinking “hard contact” and “line drives”. An excessive effort level leads to many break downs – head movement, front side pulling off, rolling top hand, etc. Get him back to basics so that his goal is consistent hard contact and line drives. Look for good balance, correct head position throughout the swing, and a short hand path to the ball.

College Recruiting Tips

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If you are a high school baseball player, then, needless to say, you dream of one day playing baseball for a college team. It is the dream of any, and every high school athlete to compete at the college level, and one day, hopefully play for a professional team. Getting into a college team can often mean the difference between shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars on tuition, or getting a free ride on a sports scholarship. College baseball recruiting, therefore, is a big deal that can make or break lives.

Unless you are a star player, you will have to work hard to make the college coaches stand up and take notice. Star players, through their various exploits, happen to get noticed by coaches automatically. But for the rest, it is an uphill battle getting the coach’s attention.

When it comes to college baseball recruiting, it is imperative that you start early. Don’t wait until the tail end of your junior year to contact college coaches; hit them up as early as your sophomore year. You can really be never too early in letting your name known among college scouts.

Your high school coaches are often the worst people to rely on when getting into a college baseball team. They often have little influence on a college coach’s decision, and little motivation to work for you in contacting them. Do yourself a favor and contact coaches yourself.

Make sure that your athletic resume is up to date. Complement it with a set of videos from some of your best games. A resume is just a sheet of paper with some statistics and words on it; a video, on the other hand, is actual proof of your athletic abilities. If you threw a 95 m.p.h. ball in the last game, make sure that you have a video recording of it (get a cheap video camera and hand it to one of your buddies during a game).

At the end of the day, college baseball recruiting is a lot about marketing yourself correctly. How well you do this will determine how successful you are in getting a good scholarship to a top college.

VIA: http://EzineArticles.com/3615909

Baseball Hitting Drills – Eye Hand Coordination

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One of the biggest areas that I receive requests for are baseball hitting drills.  Read below for a couple of great suggestions to help your young players.

Here are a couple of baseball drills to try:
Young players can have fear of the ball and poor hand/eye coordination when facing live pitching.  I have found that these players are not “seeing” the ball hit the bat, but swinging at where they think the ball is headed (or swinging at the same place/level each time regardless of the ball location).Baseball Hitting Drills

Here is my fix:  During live pitching, have the player at the plate hold the baseball bat out over the plate (don’t swing) and simply let the ball hit it.  Throw a few pitches (high and low) so that they need to move the bat up and down to make contact.  Once they get focused on “seeing the ball contact the bat” you can move them on to a half swing.  During the half swing, they should continue to focus on bat/ball contact.  Once they have gained confidence that they can hit the baseball, let them swing away.

I have used this on my struggling young hitters with great success.

Here is a popular hitting drill to teach proper form (rotational hitting/compact swing):
Put a batter in their proper stance then soft toss balls well in front of the batter and have them hit balls with the knob of the bat (DO NOT TAKE A SWING).  This will force them to use proper body positioning, wrist release, and improve eye coordination.

Courtesy of: http://www.baseball-tutorials.com/

Drills to Prevent Wrist Rolling in Baseball

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Rolling the wrists upon making contact with the ball comes naturally to many hitters, but it is a bad habit that should be corrected. Wrist rolling can rob the swing of its power, resulting most often in grounders. Jack Mankin of batspeed.com tracked 26 major leaguers who had this flaw in their swing and calculated a batting average of .224 for this group. A follow-up three years later found only four of these players still were in the majors. The earlier you identify this flaw in your swing, the better your chances of correcting it with a few simple drills.

The Rolly-Polly Drill

The Rolly-Polly drill will not only allow you to develop proper wrist motion with your swing, it will show you the best way to hit different pitches according to location–outside, inside or right up the middle. To perform this drill, you will need a fence or an L-screen to protect the pitcher. The pitcher should get behind the screen, which should be placed about 10 feet from the batter and roll the ball right toward the center of the batter’s strike zone. You, the batter, must be on your knees–this will allow you to focus on your hands and arms, not your lower body. Use your bottom hand to point the knob of the bat toward the ball as it begins to roll, then use your top hand to direct the head of the bat to make contact with the ball once it reaches the strike zone.
If your bat hits the ground before it hits the ball, this means you’re leveling out too soon, a flaw which can lead to pop-ups. If you strike the ball but it bounces or rolls along the ground, you’ve struck the top of the ball. Adjust your top hand until you are able to hit the center of the ball and get a line drive that is raised slightly off the ground and is headed straight toward the pitcher. If you can achieve this result consistently, you’re curbing your tendency towards wrist rolling.

Top Hand/Bottom Hand Drill

The top hand/bottom hand drill will help to isolate the action each hand needs to be performing when you swing. As proper hand action leads to proper wrist action, this drill also will be effective in curing any improper wrist motion you may be making in your swing. To perform this drill, you’ll need a light bat, a ball and a tee. Hold the bat with your top hand only, in correct hitting position. Cross your other hand over your chest. Swing the bat down to the ball on the tee, taking care not to roll over your wrist. Then keep your fingers in sight while you flip your wrist just enough to bring the bat barrel down right at point of impact.
Next, take the bat and hold it just with your bottom hand in the correct hitting position. Bring the knob of the bat straight to the ball on the tee, looking right at your thumb knuckle. Complete the motion by rolling the wrist and forearm, continuing the follow-through up and over your shoulder. Note that in both instances you move the bat to the ball without rolling your wrists–wrists are only rolled at, not before, contact is made. Do this slowly and repeatedly until it becomes routine for you.

Land The Plane Drill

It might help you to remember how to use your hands (and wrists) in your swing by thinking of your bat as an airplane. The bottom hand is the one that lands (directs) the plane (bat). The top hand is the one that crashes the plane. Okay, not so good if it’s an actual airplane, but when it’s a bat hitting a ball, you want to “crash” (or crush) it with all your might. This drill will help you to do just that.
Start with your bottom hand at your shoulder with your palm open and facing down. You should be in the correct hitting stance, except for keeping your other hand on your hip. Lift your front heel, then rotate your hips to face where the pitch would be coming, moving your bottom hand from your shoulder in a straight line to the front of your body where it would be when the bat hits the ball. Keep your palm facing down as you “land the plane.” Repeat this part of the drill several times, each time starting with your hand back at your shoulder, in your batting stance position.
Next, move your top hand up to your shoulder, also in your correct batting stance, but this time keep your palm open, facing up and forward. Rotate your hips to where the pitch would be again, moving your top hand to the front of your body where you’d be hitting the ball, just like you did with your bottom hand. With the top hand, though, keep your palm facing up as you “crash the plane.” Repeat this part of the drill several times.
Finish the drill by putting both hands together, and using the bat. Start with your hands and bat at your shoulder, then move the bat to where it would be hitting the ball, making sure your hands are in the same position as they were before. Open your hands when they reach the position at which you’d contact the ball. Your top hand should be open under the bat, palm up. Your bottom hand should also be open over the bat, palm down.
As you complete your swing, your top hand continues under the bat as you make contact with the ball and on through your first extension. You roll your wrists (and the bat) as you come to the second extension, just before you complete your swing.
This drill will allow you to practice proper hand action and teach you not to swing to contact, but to snap at the point of contact. Doing so will increase your bat speed and allow you to make better contact with the ball.

Via: By Maria Scinto, eHow Contributor

A Secret to Hitting

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Recently I was at a scout game at ASU that my son Jordan was playing in. Sitting next to me was Mark Verstegen, elite sports trainer to many local amateur athletes in the valley as well as numerous professional athletes such as Nomar Garciaparra, Roberto Alomar, Lou Merloni, Jason Veritek, and Mary Pierce, just to name a few. Mark had come to see Jordan and a few other players on this scout team that he works out.

Although playing in this scout league has many benefits, one of the drawbacks is the fact that they don’t have umpires. The catcher calls balls and strikes. In this particular game, in Jordan’s first at bat, the catcher called an unbelievably high and away pitch a strike, strike 3 for that matter. Jordan, being the type A personality that he is, was not happy, although to his credit, he did control his emotions. His next at bat the same thing happened. Knowing that he couldn’t get thrown out of the game, Jordan drew a line in the dirt informing the catcher where the proper strike zone is. His next at bat he turned around and hit right handed. This time he had a terrible at bat. His balance was off, his effort level was sky rocketing, he was swinging at 110% of his max and you guessed it, he struck out. Rita sarcastically asked Mark, since he works with so many baseball players, if he could suggest any professional hitting instruction for her son.

After that at bat, Jordan went to the dugout and motioned for me to go down and see him. I asked him, “Jordan, what is your confidence in? You take great bp, you hit rockets left and right (literally and figuratively), you look great in the cage and on the field during practice. What are you doing in these games? You are a totally different hitter. Why do you practice so hard if you aren’t going to take your practice into the games? Be yourself, relax and let all your hard work pay off by believing in yourself and not trying to do too much. You have to have the confidence to know that what you practice day in and day out will be carried over into the game.” His next two at bats were quality at bats hitting hard line drives up the middle, one from the right side, one from the left. He made the adjustment.

When I returned to my seat, Mark then asked me what I thought were common denominators shared by great hitters. I told him that once a player has sound mechanics as a given, ( being able to repeat their swing) along with excellent hand eye coordination, there are certain critical aspects which set great hitters apart from the rest:

  • Work ethic
  • Ability to make adjustments
  • Not being afraid to fail
  • Becoming a student of the game

See the Ball!

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Question:

My son struggled at the 16 year old JV level this season. The bottom line is he just doesn’t pick up the ball consistently. The zone he has the most problem with is that first zone, leaving the pitcher’s hand to the first 10-12 feet. He fights off a lot of pitches because they get on top of him, sees it too late. He can’t ever attack it out in front of the plate. When he sees it early and likes it, he most of the time jumps at it and gets out on his front foot, either topping the ball or getting under it. I have Harvey’s Vision Training, have used it a bit, he’s into his Legion Ball now for the summer and I want to help him NOW ! That’s where you come in, Dave. It’s not as easy as saying “See it coming out of the pitcher’s hand”. What now !!????

Answer:

The first action that needs to take place is that when his stride foot comes down, the hands have to go back. This will get him into a good position of power and allow him to see the ball. It sounds like he usually starts too late, and gets beat on balls, or he starts too early and all his weight comes forward. I would rather him start too early then too late, if he starts too late he will get beat on balls every time.

However, he can start as early as he wants if he gets into the position of power. Once he is in the position of power, don’t have him thinkn about seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, have him only think about seeing the ball. If a hitter thinks about seeing the ball out of the hand he might follow the hand instead of the ball. Have him start early, and only think about seeing the ball. Good luck with the season.

3 Keys to Hitting Success

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Once you do have your hitting fundamentally correct, to set yourself above your competition, not merely resting on your laurels and thinking that your current success will be enough, you need to concentrate on these three keys to success:

Work ethic
What is your work ethic like? Are you the first to come and the last to leave? If you are not doing more than your coach asks, it’s not enough.

Ability to make adjustments
Don’t wait 2 weeks to make an adjustment. Adjustments should be made game to game – at bat to at bat-pitch to pitch. I used Jordan’s at bats as an example. Learn to make the adjustments necessary to get you past your present difficulties. Believe me, the difficulties will come. The sooner you make the adjustment the shorter the duration and severity of the difficulty.

Not being afraid to fail
Sorry but I have to jump to another sport to illustrate this point. Tiger Woods will possibly go down in history as the greatest golfer ever. What did he do after he had so much success including winning the Masters at his young age, something no one had ever done before? He changed his swing. His critics thought he was crazy. Having had so much success, why would he change? We frequently hear the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I disagree. Just because it’s not broken, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. Tiger obviously agrees. He wasn’t afraid to change – to make himself better. He wasn’t afraid to fail. The results speak for themselves. You will only improve when change takes place. You’ve heard me say this before, you either will get better or worse, you won’t stay the same.

Taking Your BP into the Game

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Question:

My 11 year old son hits much better in the more competitive AAU than in LL. In AAU, he really drives the ball. Line drive extra base hits. His mechanics are good. quick hands, uses legs, stays down on the ball. In LL, he doesn’t use his legs, swings at bad pitches, doesn’t drive the ball. I know its a mental thing. He says he is tense. I think its a holdover from last year. His first year in LL majors, he did not hit well then either. (partly because he got hit on the elbow.) He works really hard, takes extra BP. But this is primarily mental. How can I help him overcome this psychological barrier.

Answer:

It’s true when people say that this game is more mental then physical. You talked about him taking extra batting practice, which is very good, however how muck time is he spending creating good mental habits. As much time as he spends in the cage he should spend visualising himself having success. Let him go over mentally all the success he has had in his AAU league. Have him go up to the plate with nothing on his mind except him knowing that he going to have success in that at bat. With this attitude he will always dominate.

Learn How to Keep It Simple at the Plate

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At a major baseball convention,  a sports psychologist in attendance unknowingly paid HEAD GAMES a great compliment.  His critical comment to the company selling the book was, “yeah, I’ve read it, but  It’s written on an eighth grade level.”   Au contraire!  I’m thinking that if an eight year old can read it, understand it and attain baseball excellence, then it must be written on maybe a third grade level?  In order to scale the pinnacle of performance potentiality, simplicity is an absolute necessity.  If  you’ve just got to have a complicated methodology that doesn’t work,  then HEAD GAMES is not your answer.  E-mail me and I’ll give you the name of the other guy’s book which sold a total of one at the convention compared to many written on “the eight grade level.”  If you want something simple to use that works and works immediately from youth leagues through the major leagues, then make HEAD GAMES yours and maximum potential for success can be realized.  I talked with a major league pitcher this week that I worked with toward the end of last season.  His subsequent success was close to perfect after struggling all season.  Now, he can’t wait for the season to begin.  Barring injury, this WILL be his best season ever, and he’s had some really good ones.  His comment on the book:  “I have never liked to read, but I love THIS book.  I don’t want to put it down.  The techniques are so easy to use.”  To insure success, one must mentally embrace a simple approach that allows consistent play “in the zone.”

The HEAD GAMES methodology is exceedingly simple and fun to use.  This simplicity is an absolute requirement if an athlete aspires to attain the “seventh heaven” of Baseball Excellence.  If there are those who desire or have tried complex theories, which are doomed to failure, I recommend that they  get on board with hundreds of athletes who have discovered the awesome power of HEAD GAMES.  Accolades, testimonials & endorsements continue to pour in from across the world.  The success of HEAD GAMES has been and continues to be unprecedented and unparalleled. Ladies & Gentlemen, start your powerful “mental engines” by choosing the holistic philosophy of HEAD GAMES, and begin to enjoy life and success on and off the field.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Walter Herbison - He consulted with Mississippi State Baseball from 1988-1992, the Atlanta Braves in 1990, LSU in 1991 and 2000, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs organizations and many other amateur and professional teams. Nationally, he has consulted with many players individually — from youth leagues to Major Leagues.

The Proper Stance

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As you look around the baseball and softball world, you will see all types of different stances.  From Little League to the Major Leagues the stances will vary.  As a young player it is good to initially experiment with different types of stances. I’ve heard Ted Williams says that he would see a new player come into the league and like something this player was doing with his stance and he would try it.  He always went back to what he was comfortable with buy he wasn’t afraid to try something new.

You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, but at the same time you should not be changing your stance everyday.  Find a stance that is comfortable and workable and stick with it.  When something is no longer working for you, make and adjustment!