Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Category: Baseball (Page 3 of 11)

Weighted Baseballs – Velocity Silver Bullet or Front Row Surgical Ticket?

Weighted baseball training has been a widely debated prescription for increasing throwing velocity since the first research on it was published in the 1960s, though it has gained greater attention in the last twenty years.

Why Weighted Baseballs?

These types of training programs utilizing weighted baseballs continue to rise in popularity for pitchers of all levels.  At the same time, scientists are not entire sure about why they may improve velocity, the long-term effects on the body, or the most appropriate program to perform.

From Mike Reinold at Elite Baseball Performance:

There has been a recent increased emphasis on pitch velocity within the amateur and professional levels of baseball.  According to Pitch/FX data, the average fastball velocity in MLB has gone up each year since tracking began in 2008, from 90.9 MPH to 93.2 MPH in 2017.  Previous studies have shown both a correlation between increased pitch velocity and increased elbow stress and elbow injury rates.   Thus, it is not surprising that injury rates continue to increase in a nearly linear fashion with increased average pitch velocity.

One Side

From Brett Pourciau at TopVelociy on a recent study:

Yes, weighted baseball training causes serious injury. It is a hard reality, but anything that tries to force a physical gain in a short period of time, in a sport that already has a pattern of throwing related injury, usually comes with serious consequences. The problem today is, either people are ignorant of this or they don’t care. 

You can read the complete article here….

Brett is a biomechanics specialist and a consultant with Major League Baseball

The Other Side

From Driveline – a big proponent of weighted baseballs:

Research backs up the use of underload and overload training in various forms, and it’s no surprise that it works for baseball pitchers as well. Dr. Coop Derenne is the foremost expert in this field and has published a number of research papers that indicate that weighted baseball training creates a significant increase in velocity for those training with underweighted and overweighted baseballs. His most popular paper is Effects of Under and Overweighted Implement Training on Pitching Velocity, which concludes that training with either underweighted (4 oz) or overweighted (6 oz) baseballs improved pitching velocity when compared to simply throwing normal baseballs.

What’s Next

Well, if you are coaching young players, do your research first.  There seem to be two sides of the coin here, but my take is to be extra conservative with the younger set.  Their bodies are not physically mature and they can injure easily.

Don’t be that coach/dad that pushes your player so hard that they break down prematurely.

Great Christmas Gifts for the Baseball Minded

Paul Petricca’s Hitting With Torque

This is a fantastic read – not only from the physical adjustments that must be made, but to the mental side, as well. Get in your ready hitting position early, players!

Paul is the hitting coach at Wheaton College in Chicago, and I know him pretty well. He works with both softball and baseball players to maximize their power from the ground up.

Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson’s Heads-Up Baseball 2.0

Two of my favorite and “go-to” mental guys in the baseball world are Dr. Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson.  I’ve mentioned them before – and I’d highly recommend that you read their book and take it to heart.

Steve Springer’s Quality At-Bats “Mental Side” CD

Steve Springer is the former mental hitting instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays and one of the best instructors out there.  I’d invite you to visit Quality At-Bats site to find out more about him. His “Mental Side” CDs are fantastic and can really help a player learn how to find the right mental state prior to competition.

Jeff Passan’s The Arm

For three years, Jeff Passan, the lead baseball columnist for Yahoo Sports, has traveled the world to better understand the mechanics of the arm and its place in the sport’s past, present, and future.

Totally worth the read for parents and players

Zepp Baseball Swing Analyzer

The Zepp product helps players by giving information on everything imaginable From hand speed to the amount of time it takes to make an impact, this device provides a wide variety of data. It can even help by pairing to the camera on your phone or tablet to create HD videos that players can use. Hitters can compare their videos to the 3D models that the tracker makes.

This device can create custom training programs to help the hitter figure out what they need to do to improve.

Hitters: Never Be Satisfied – Torque Hitting and 4 Key Things

I’ve linked to Paul Petricca’s Torque Hitting before (his blog is here and I highly recommend his book which can be found here).

Paul is back as the hitting coach at Wheaton College in Chicago, and I know him pretty well. He works with both softball and baseball players to maximize their power from the ground up.

I‘m a believer of what he teaches. I love his passion for hitting…and the commitment he has to his players.

Here are a few excerpts from one of his torque hitting blog post, entitled “Hitters Should Never Be Satisfied”:

“As a hitting coach, it is difficult for me to observe the “real” swings of my hitters until they are in the batter’s box in live games. The goal of every hitter should be to use the same hitting mechanics in games as they do in the batting cage. Unfortunately, many hitters struggle with this.”

Hitters…

  • Don’t be content, even if you are leading your team in hitting.
  • Continue to search for small ways to generate extra power by using your body more effectively.
  • Strive for more consistency by continually working on perfecting every hitting key, which will lead to a repeatable swing.
  • Transfer your batting practice swing to games.
  • Never be satisfied!

Here are 4 of his torque hitting hitting keys….

Hands Back

Even though I can objectively prove to my hitters with a swing speed radar that by merely moving the hands back toward the catcher a few inches, bat speed will increase dramatically, some don’t trust this advice in games.

They move their hands in towards their body in an effort to be “quicker to the ball”. This only leads to a slower bat and less power. I’m convinced that most hitters don’t want to accept this very simple fix to their swing, because they want to look “cool”. They see professional hitters with their hands and bats in all kinds of crazy positions before the pitch is thrown.

What they don’t see is how all professional hitters move their hands back toward the catcher at some point before the pitch is thrown. They can get away with some pre-swing bat movement, but amateur hitters cannot!

Powerful Load

Hitters who adopt a leg lift that is slow and powerful will enjoy both increased power and consistency. Hitters who decide not to lift the front leg at all will be at the mercy of pitchers who are able to effectively pitch on the corners of home plate. They will have to reach for outside pitches and will be forced to swing earlier than necessary for inside pitches.

I tell my hitters that hitting success begins with a slow and powerful leg lift (load). Without this important hitting key, the entire swing sequence is negatively affected. In my book, Hitting With Torque: For Baseball and Softball Hitters, I detail why lifting the front leg is imperative to be a complete hitter.

Back Elbow Rotation

The most common cause of inconsistency in hitters, especially fastpitch softball players, is the collapsing of the back elbow as the swing sequence is initiated. When hitters move the back elbow close to their bodies as the swing begins, the bat quickly loses the important 45-degree power angle.

This angle is critical for consistent hard contact with the ball. The back elbow should be totally still as it rotates around the body. This rotation without lowering the back elbow will ensure the angle of the bat is maintained until the arms move toward full extension at impact with the ball.

High Finish

In practice, I encourage my hitters to let the bat finish where “it” wants to finish, which is high and away from the body. Average hitters will often manually change the path of the bat (higher or lower) before the swing is fully completed. Not only does this affect the flight of the ball, it also decreases bat speed and power.

Some coaches and hitters erroneously believe that where the bat finishes is not important. They contend the ball is already gone, so it doesn’t matter where the bat finishes. I believe the velocity and trajectory of the ball off the bat has everything to do with the path and finish of the swing.

Ask any professional golfer the key to a successful swing. They will always point to a balanced, powerful, and high finish to the swing. When hitters focus on the end of the swing and trust the rest of the swing sequence, the results are typically very good!

Both baseball and softball players alike can take a ton away from what Coach Petricca is saying here….and best of luck to Paul and his Wheaton team this upcoming season!

Stop Revisiting Negatives From Past Games

As you probably know by now, one of my favorite mental coaches is Dr. Patrick Cohn of Peak Sports Performance. Dr. Cohn is a sports psychologist out of Orlando Florida.

He’s always preaching about mental toughness – as well as the techniques athletes can use to grasp it.

He sent out an e-mail blast recently that I’ve posted below regarding eliminating negative thoughts regarding past performance – and how to best get past it.

For instance, you whiffed the last two at-bats swinging at balls in the dirt and now you are facing the same pitcher with a runner in scoring position, “Here we go AGAIN!”

Or you walked the bases loaded and are having difficulty with your control and are now facing a hitter that has torched you in the past, “Here we go AGAIN!”

Or your team has blown the lead in the ninth inning the last two games and now you are clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom on the ninth, “Here we go AGAIN!”

This is a common problem among baseball players, but this mindset is based on a misconception. This misconception implies “what happened in the past will continue to happen in the present.”

It is an over generalization to believe the past will repeat itself but many baseball players, in the moment, buy into the “here we go again…” mindset.

When you allow past outcomes to influence your mindset in the present, the pressure heightens, which creates anxiety and tension.

Playing anxious and tight ball is a recipe for athletic disaster and under-performance.

In Action

The San Francisco Giants could have easily defaulted to the “here we go again” mentality after a breakdown against the Texas Rangers.

The Giants started out the first game of a three-game series against the Rangers with a tough game, blowing a six-run lead to lose in extra-innings at home.

To add to the potential pressure, the Giants had lost 10 of the previous 13 at their ballpark.

The San Francisco Giants had to quickly re-focus in Game 2 of their series.

The Giants quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead but gave up three runs in the eighth inning.

Despite similar circumstances, the Giants fought forward and San Francisco relief pitcher Mark Melancon closed out the game with the bases loaded to secure a 5-3 win over Rangers.

Hunter Pence, who had a pinch-hit home run in the seventh, talked about their “keep attacking” mindset rather than succumbing to the “here we go again” mindset.

PENCE: “It’s very important to continue to send that message of relentless attack. Even where we are and as clouded as it may seem, you still never know. When there’s still a chance in this game of baseball, things can get hot in an instant.”

Knowing there is a chance is a great strategy to keep your head in the game and avoid the pitfall of “here we go again.”

Keeping Your Head in the Game

Knowing you have a chance comes in many forms:

*Knowing there is a chance to still win.

*Knowing there is still a chance to bounce back the next game.

*Knowing there is still a chance to hone your skills and improve your game.

*Knowing you can learn from the past and adjust.

If you can adopt the “there’s still a chance” mindset, you can focus on making things happen in the moment.

Let go of what’s already happened, look for signs to build momentum, and get things moving in a positive direction. Instead, take a trip down memory lane to when you did drive in that run!

 

If I Could Go Back, This is What I’d Do….

Oxy team

I’ve shamelessly stolen this from a recent online post – and, would you believe it, I can’t even source it.

Now that I’ve turned 50, the document below rings completely true.  I bet a number of my teammates (and coaches today) would absolutely agree.Tommy batboy

If you are a  high school or college play (or aspire to be), read through this list and learn.  Apply it to what you are doing today…..

Tom Title Bar

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