MLB Coach: Fix this 1 Swing Flaw to Crush it in 2019!
Have you ever listened to a coach talk about hitting and thought to yourself…
…I’m not sure this guy knows what he’s talking about?
Or have you ever heard conflicting theories on how to hit and weren’t sure who to trust? (I know I have).
Over the last couple of years I’ve interviewed hundreds of coaches across all levels for Baseball Notes…
…read all the books
...and spent hours on Youtube (that I’ll never get back)...
And along the way I learned a secret that I’m gonna share with you right now:
The system we use today to develop our hitters…is completely out of date (upside down?).
Almost all coaches today are relying on common buzzwords and outdated ideas.
And because of this, here's what we're left with:
Our kids uniforms fit a little better, but the same problems the Little Rascals had on the baseball field are the same ones our kids are struggling with today!
("Can't Go Oppo" kid just can't keep his "Hands Inside The Ball" like his coach pleads. Terrible)
But here's the crazy thing...
We actually HAVE made progress! There are people out there who don't deal with just theory and empty keywords.
That actually have taken both the success concepts from the past and the new advancements of today and combined them with what ACTUALLY produces on game day (experience).
The biggest problem.... is that these guys are INCREDIBLY hard to get access to.
So we're relying on an ABUNDANCE of online guys - who are repeating outdated buzzwords and drills from yesteryear - to show our kids and our coaches what creates success.
It's 2019 and we're drowning in information...
...but starving for wisdom.
And to make it worse...when you look online, everyone is contradicting each other!
(And often themselves!)
Like, have you ever heard a vegan talk about their diet and how healthy they are, and you’re like:
“That makes a lot of sense…I should become a vegan!”
[Ok, you probably never thought you should become a vegan. Being a vegan sounds awful – am I right? But for now, lets pretend you’ve thought this before]
Then, you hear some Keto expert talk about the benefits of meats and high fat diets and now you’re like:
“That makes a lot of sense…I should eat more Keto!”
It’s like, how the heck are we supposed to know?
And it’s the same with the baseball swing.
Too many opinions. Too many theories.
Between HS, a good junior college (Fresno City College), two D1's and my time in the Astros system, I've had more coaching than most.
And the good hitting coach at each stop would contradict the coaching at the previous stop.
I was just left to politely nod my head to the coach, cross my fingers and *really hope* these adjustments would be the right ones.
And I'm fortunate, my parents were so on board! They did what good parents do - seek out the very best training for their kid (though they didn't know what that was!)
But here's the thing - even with all of the MONEY my parents spent during my playing career (we’re talking $10,000+, and that’s BEFORE you factor any uncovered scholarship costs....thanks again Mom!)…
...and all of the lessons they signed me up for, and all of the "high level" coaching I received (that most people would kill for)
…and yet I STILL arrived in pro baseball with a swing that had no chance of succeeding.
[CHANGE PICTURE BELOW]
I’m now a dad and the coach of my son’s 9u team (kid pitch this spring…exciting!) and the stakes have changed.
It’s kinda weird, as a player I had *some* comfort level being unsure about the “best” way to hit…
…but as a parent I have ZERO comfort level with giving my son second rate instruction.
Because I’ve told him the buzzwords. I’ve had him do the same drills that I used to do.
And yet, his swing and his results didn’t change much.
Still would hit the ball hard to one side of the field (for him, oppo).
Still made mostly weak contact to the other side of the field (pull).
Still struggled with his balance.
These were things I chalked up to just being young.
“Ah, he’ll figure it out. He’s still little.”
But here’s the thing. My son will be 10 this year….
…but I swear last year he was 6.
As Yogi said, “It getting late early out there”.
Time is moving. His experience is happening right now. Not in the future. Right now.
I didn’t want to lean on the flawed model anymore.
I didn’t want to waste another minute by giving him second rate instruction.
It was time for a better way.
[insert picture of me and mason]
In a day in age where (funny technology), how do our kids not have better access to training methods that are PROVEN to succeed at all levels?
Imagine with me for a moment.
What if getting your kid to perform better on game day wasn’t about more instruction….but simply BETTER instruction?
What if your son got the same current, evolved-over-time and PROVEN instruction that big leaguers seek out?
Wouldn’t that be helpful?
Well I’ve got good news for you….that’s what I’m about to share with you right here!
I basically started Baseball Notes because I thought it was ridiculous that we weren’t learning from better people.
Truth is - boats are nice and all, but I'd rather be with my family at the ballpark.
My wife *mostly* agrees. Apparently parenting our other kids all day long by herself isn't all that easy.
I don't know though, seems like this would be kinda easy [note to self: maybe take this out before wife reads]
[insert family photo]
But the fact remains, if you're gonna give up your opportunity to wear collared shirts on a boat...
...if you're gonna spend 100's of hours and THOUSANDS of dollars every year helping your kid to play well and chase their goals...
You need to make sure they're working on the right things.
That they're learning from someone proven to get results.
Because your kid can't succeed on his own.
Now, do you like God? I'm a fan. Here's what he said:
"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."
It's really just a matter of who you trust to actually DELIVER the results you're wanting for your kid.
I want to introduce you to the guy I've been most impressed with throughout my whole Baseball-Notes-journey.
Name is Mike Brumley.
I first saw Mike giving a lesson at a local facility where my boy was doing some training...
...and though I didn't know who he was I was FASCINATED by what was going on in his cage.
The hitter he was working with - an average looking 15-ish year old - had an UNBELIEVABLY beautiful swing.
Left handed hitter and smooth, smooth, smooth.
The ball was JUMPING off the bat.
And they were doing some real unconventional stuff.
Things I had never seen.
Short bat, long bat...
...full swings, check swings...
...one hand, two hands.
And I wanted to be a hater, because that's usually my knee jerk reaction when I see a guy doing something new...
(not good, I know!)
But man, this kid was raking and looked sooooo clean.
So I find out more about this guy, and low and behold...
...he's the hitting coordinator for the Atlanta Braves!
("Hitting coordinator" means he's entrusted with the development of the entire organization's hitting prospects. No big deal.)
I was curious before about what this guy was teaching, but now I'm REALLY curious.
So he and I meet up and our conversation goes like this:
Me: I've actually seen you before. I saw you give a kid named David [not his real name] a lesson. I was fascinated.
Mike: Oh yeah? Yes, David's come a long way. We've got him at a good point right now.
Me: No doubt! I couldn't stop watching him. I noticed that you kept using different sized bats, did a bunch of bare hand drills and such....what were you guys working on?
[Pay attention right here, this is big]
Mike: "I've been in the game a long time [over 30 years at the professional level] and I've found it hard to "explain" adjustments to a player. You can't "explain" what a good swing should *feel* like. But over time I've tried every hundreds of different methods and the ones I use now are the best at making a player *feel* the right movement.
(Now I'm VERY interested.)
We keep talking and we happen to talk about a few big MLB names who he works pretty closely with, and I asked him if his techniques work with young players too.
Mike: Definitely. I worked with Raul Ibanez his last season in Seattle. He believes the changes I helped him make was responsible for extending his career. He asked me to work with his 12 year old son and we made great progress with him too.
And Raul told me, "You know you've got the truth when what you teach can help a 41 year old big leaguer AND a 12 year old kid."
I don't work with young kids too often just because of my schedule, but they actually tend to improve the fastest.
Their bad habits aren't as deeply engrained as the older guys. Plus the props I use kinda force them into the right positions anyway.
Me: This sounds fascinating. I'd like to see more. What are the odds I can get you to come to a practice and work with my 9 year olds?
And he agreed!
So Mike comes out to our practice and as you would probably guess...kills it.
The kids all looked better after a brief workout with him....
...and a few in particular looked SUBSTANTIALLY better.
So I ask Mike, "Have you ever thought about sharing your teachings online? The internet is so filled with garbage and clutter - people would be so benefited to learn from someone like you."
He says, "You know, it's funny you ask. I hate the idea of coming off like some guru - I'm no guru - but for a while now I've felt a pull on my heart to do more to help young hitters.
I've probably worked with thousands of local players youth/HS players while on the Major League trail, and it's always the same problems I'm trying to fix.
What most of these kids are being taught isn't great. Most coaches don't know how to help players, they're just trying to explain what they think worked for them when they played.
And it's too bad. These are good kids who want to put in the work and want to achieve something.
I see it all the time, kids have major flaws but nobody fixes them because they're having a decent amount of success.
But usually they're just one trick ponies.
Like, they only hit the ball hard to one side of the field...
...or can really only handle one particular speed...
...and one particular location...
...and only when their timing is juuuust right.
Basically, a LOT of moons have to line up in order for them to have success."
[PICK THIS OR THE PARAGRAPH ABOVE]
Like, I'll have guys tell me about a hitter and be like "Oh man he just crushes balls"
And I'm like, "Yeahhhhhh, but a lot of things have to line up for him to crush balls.
"If the pitch is just the right speed, and just in the right spot and he recognizes it in time and his timing is just right...then yeah, he crushes balls....
"But if you change that pitch location, or you change the speed....then I don't know.
"He's probably not "crushing" near as much as he should be."
...but I'll tell you this:
99% of young players today will never handle good pitching with how they're swinging now.
And I've found that what I teach now, the things I've learned and borrowed from so many good coaches before me...
Makes a hitter better. More contact. Harder Contact. It's as simple as that."
[Note: Mike doesn't love me sharing this. He's an awesome, humble dude and doesn't want to come off like Mr Know-It-All. But the fact is, is that he helps hitters get better and it's not fair to anybody to understate that. Sorry Mike :) ]
So right now, I want to share with you the biggest flaw that Mike sees in both youth level and professional hitters and two things you can do about it:
(Be excited :)
The fatal flaw for young (and old!) baseball players is...
Being reliant on PERFECT timing
Let's be clear on something: Hitting is tough.
"Perfect" is not a standard that anyone can live up to in this game....it's just too hard.
If we break it down to the most basic level - the goal of hitting is to get the good part of the barrel on the ball as often as possible.
If you get the sweet spot on the ball...you've got a chance.
And to echo back to what Mike mentioned earlier, guys are mostly accomplishing this only when EVERYTHING lines up perfectly.
Perfect pitch, perfect swing, perfect timing.
That's not gonna happen too often.
In his book, The Mike Schmidt Study, Schmidt says that the thing that determines a players success are the quality of his "miss-hits".
Meaning are you able to have ANY success when things didn't go well....like, if most of your miss-hits are weak ground balls or pop ups, you're in trouble.
Game is too tough.
How can you have even a *little* more success when things don't go perfectly.
Relying on perfect timing for success gets harder and harder as pitchers get better, throw harder and with more speed variation.
Back to Brumley, Mike was telling me:
"When you face a guy like Justin Verlander, he's got TWO fastballs. He's got 92 and he's got another one that's 98. And when that ball gets released out of his hand - you don't know. You just don't know which one it is. The only way to be able to compete is to have the barrel in the zone early, on time, and late."
Some people refer to this as "getting on plane" with the pitch, but I almost always see guys show a side view of a hitter to explain this
[SHOW SIDE ANGLE]
But what I think is more illustrative is the overhead shot.
What you've gotta be able to do is hit all three of these pitches...and what guys are taught today do a particularly bad job of helping a hitter hit that ball out in front.
That ball right there...is roll over city.
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