Fastball Reaction Time: Must See Link

I was searching the net, looking for different times related to baseball and softball activities.  I was investigating things like running and throwing times. I came across this really cool site with an interactive activity that simulates reaction time to a major league fastball. It is very simple,  but I wasted atleast 10 minutes of my life before my wife made me stop. Check it out.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/reactiontime.html

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Indoor Batting Cage Practice: Our Set-up Chart

Station #1:  Cage Sequence #1: 3-2-7-1 (track 3, 2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #2:  Cage Sequence #2: 2-7-1 (2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #3:  Cage Sequence #3: 2-8-1-1 (2 sacs, 8 cuts, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #4:  Cage Sequence #4: 2-6-1-1-1 (track 2, 6 cuts, 1 sac, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #5:  Cage Sequence #5: 1-NO ROCKS IN THE AIR!!!

                                                Drill List

1.        Vision Soft toss (No side or standing feeders)

2.        Launch & Drop (up the middle to opposite field)

3.        Battle with the paddle

4.        Battle with the paddle top hand

5.        Lite-Flite Bunt

6.        Launch

7.        Dot Drill

8.        Vision Tee

9.        High Tee

10.     Tee Walk-ups

11.     Hitting discs

12.     Front Toss Whiffle Balls

What you see above is basically the chart that is used during the season when we are stuck inside due to weather.  Our cage area has space limitations.  Therefore, we have to be creative utilizing the space that we have. This chart serves as a portion of a practice plan. It will be posted.  The players are placed into their hitting groups.  They should be able to look at the chart, understand where they should be, and what they are to do once they get there. It usually takes 2-3 three times for the players to totally understand the process, but when they get used to it, it’ll be like clockwork.

Here’s how the chart is used.  The top of the chart is a map that displays the numbered cage station areas. It also shows the direction in which the players are to rotate.  The table in the middle of the chart has Stations 1-5 listed.  The coach is to write in drills for each station from the drill list at the bottom. Then, the coach is to circle a cage sequence to be followed once any given hitting group rotates into the machine area of the cage. The whole team rotates when the group on the machine is done. There is no reason for any one on the team to be standing around. 

Everyone has a place to be and a purpose once they get there.  By planning ahead of time there is less wasted time and more time for the coaches to float around and work with hitters.  This is typically used in 45-60 minute session.  We try to get everyone to each station twice.  Each player should get between 100-125 cuts.  If a player gets less than that, it’s on them for not working hard enough.

Must Read Article Related to MLB Hitters

My staff and I went to a clinic yesterday in Chillicothe, IL. Jerry Rashid, the head coach there always does a very nice job putting together the clinic with a variety of speakers. Two of the speakers, an assistant from the University of Illinois and the head coach from Indiana State University, gave a college perspective on hitting. Both came with different ideas. I saw this article this morning related to the relationship of a major leaguer player and his hitting coach, and I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Click the link below:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100123&content_id=7958858&vkey=news_chc&fext=.jsp&c_id=chc&partnerId=rss_chc

Team Hitting Drill: The Octopus

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

-H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

The first time I saw this drill, or something similar to it, was in Dixon, IL. My friend Dan Crawford was using it as part of his team’s pre-game routine.  Whiffle balls were flying in every direction. Players were placed all over left field. Jokingly, I said, “Dan, it looks like a octupus exploded out there. What’s going on?” He told me it was a drill.  I liked it so much, that night I scribbled something similar to it on paper.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 bucket
  • 4 dozen whiffle balls
  • 4 bats

Purpose: The purpose of this drill is to get each of your players 24 purposeful swings with in less than 8 minutes. It makes a great pre-game hitting routine. I especially like it on the road.  It also makes a good practice drill when time or space is limited for hitting.  Lastly, it’s a good indoor drill when a cage is not available.

Set up & Grouping: Take your team and divide them into three or four equal groups. I recommend no more than 5 in a group.  4 in each group is just about perfect. Place the bucket of whiffle balls in the center and one group on each side of the bucket. Each group needs a hitter, pitcher, and shaggers.  The hitters are nearest the bucket.  The pitchers are throwing towards the hitters standing by the bucket.

After a hitter gets 6 cuts, he or she rotates to become the pitcher of  his group. The pitcher rotates to shagger. A shagger comes to the bucket and becomes a hitter.  Make one of the groups “the lead group”. When all of the hitters in the lead group have hit, that group yells “ROTATE” and all of the groups rotate clockwise.  It should take a little less than 2 minutes for a group of 4 to hit at each station. Each station has a purpose. See below:

  • Station #1: Pulling inside strikes
  • Station #2: hitting up the middle
  • Station #3: hitting outside strikes
  • Station #4: I like to use this one as a wildcard station in order to mix it up.  You can make it a bunting station, top hand drill, 2 strike hitting, etc. Most often, I like to use a paddle drill.

Hints:

  • The first time you run the drill, it will take a bit longer than 8 minutes due to explanation. It will get to be more fluid each time the drill is run.
  • For younger players, eliminate the rotation. As the coach, call out a new hitting purpose every 2-3 minutes.
  • Monitor your pitchers. Make sure that they are throwing the balls hard enough and trying to hit locations.
  • Monitor your hitters make sure that they are swinging at strikes. Much to often, when the whiffle balls come out, hitter start swinging at everything.
  • Emphasize no pop-ups.
  • Make sure your hitters are not getting to close to one another. Safety first 🙂

Baseball & Softball Hitting: The Finish

tedwilliams2 - CopyThe previous three posts related to hitting dealt with:

  1. Stance or Rest Position
  2. Negative Movement or Launch Position
  3. Contact Position

The fourth installment of this series of posts deals with the end of the swing or “The Finish”.   Basically, I want to describe what a hitter’s body should look like after contact is made. The focus of this description will be related to balance and direction of of bat path. Here are 4 questions to ask your hitters at the end of the swing:

  1. Are you hitting off a firm front side with your front knee still locked?
  2. Are you still balanced with your head centered between both legs so as not to be lunging forward? Could you take a steel rod and insert it through the top of the skull, go down through the spine, and come out the bottom of the femur?
  3. Is your head still and steady? Does the neck look and feel relaxed? Did the head remain at a consistent altitude?
  4. Is the bat completely wrapped around your back? This may vary, based on whether you are a top hand release hitter (ex. Mark MacGwire) or a no release hitter (ex. Mike Schmidt).

IMG_0234 - Copy

The Test- Repeatedly, look to see if  the hitter is in a steady, controlled position upon finishing the swing. If not, continuously look to improve until he/she is in that position. Depending on core strength, age, and amount of built up muscle memory the amount of time to correct improper balance will vary.  For some hitters it may take 1,000 repetitions to get to “comfortable” 🙂

Please feel free to comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably enjoy the following:

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/baseball-softball-hitting-qualities-of-a-great-batting-stance/

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/baseball-softball-hitting-loading-launching-slotting-getting-a-negative-movement/

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/baseball-softball-hitting-the-contact-position/

Baseball & Softball Hitting: The Contact Position

Lefty hitting an inside pitch.

Lefty hitting an inside pitch.

The previous post was related to the negative movement or “launch” position.  That negative movement should be performed on every pitch.  The idea is to be ready to hit every pitch.  Making the assumption that the next pitch will be the one to drive.  Hitters should only be laying off pitches that  they decide aren’t giving them an optimum chance of making good contact. This post is about what a hitter’s body should look like when he or she sees that pitch, you know…. “the one”.

Here is a list of questions or checkpoints, if you will.  Some questions to ask your hitters as you review videotape of them hitting. Or simply some things to watch as your hitters take BP.

  1. Is the hitter’s rear foot and kneecap turned facing the pitcher?
  2. Did the back hip and back shoulder coincide movement?
  3. Is the hitter up on the toes of his or her back foot?
  4. Is the hitter’s front foot slightly open at a 45° angle?
  5. Is the knee braced and locked?
  6. Are the hands in a palm up-palm down position?
  7. Is the hitter’s head still an centered between both legs?
  8. Is the posture still tall and not leaning forward or back?
  9. Are the hitter’s eyes fixed on the point of contact? You can’t hit what you can’t see.
  10. Is the hitter hitting strikes at different parts of the zone at the correct area over the plate?  The inside pitch should be struck in front of the hitters front hip, the outside pitch near the front of the back hip, and the pitch right down the middle should be struck somewhere in between.
Albert Pujols hitting an outside pitch. Notice the eyes, hands, and feet. Awesome!!!

Albert Pujols hitting an outside pitch. Notice the eyes, hands, and feet. Awesome!!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 tedwilliamshands
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As always, feel free to comment. 
 
If you enjoyed this post you’ll probably enjoy the following:
 
 

Baseball & Softball Hitting: Loading, Launching, Slotting…. Getting a Negative Movement

IMG_0802In the last post, I described the qualities of a great batting stance or “rest position”. So, what’s next? Well, the next step is referred to by many different names, such as, “load”, “slot”, “point of no return”, or “launch”.  “Launch” is my favorite.  It connotes explosion and power. Very positive.  No matter what you call it, the point is; hitters need to get a negative movement prior to during every pitch in order to be prepared to swing. 

Here’s what it looks like:

  • The hands of the hitter take a negative move, back towards the back shoulder.  The hands should be held high at the top of the zone.
  • The hitter should keep the stride shorter rather than longer.  This has nothing to do with how high the foot comes off the ground.  Stride is relative to the distance the front foot travels from its beginning in the rest position to the end of the launch.  In this case, typically, less is more when dealing with the core strength and body control of young hitters. 
  • During launch the hands and front foot move in opposite directions, or walk away from one another.  The foot is somewhat optional.  Some very successful hitters are stride-less.  The hands however are not an option.

launch

  • Compare this to shooting a rubber band.  In order to get it to fly farther and faster, you must pull the ends away from each other. The further apart, the better, right?
  • Most importantly!!! The weight distribution of the hitter should be 80/20 at launch.  That means 80% on the back foot and 20% on the front foot.  In the stance, the hitter should have started at 60/40.  Getting to 80/20 is difficult for many young hitters.  I attribute this to poor instruction at an early age.  All to often, I hear parents and coaches tell young hitters to take a big step towards the pitcher.   Yes, we want the front foot to go in the general direction of the pitcher, but  a step will put the hitters weight distribution at 20/80. That is the total opposite of what it should be at launch position.  Years later you’ll hear the same parents and coaches telling the same hitters not to lunge at off-speed pitches.  Good luck fixing that one.

 Notes:

  • This negative movement must happen on every pitch!!!
  • This negative movement should be practiced in the on-deck circle.
  • This negative movement needs to be drilled as part of a batting practice routine.
  • Think of cue words or phrases to remind hitters of this negative movement, such as, “stretch the rubber band” or “load up”.