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In this day and age of the “new” swing where an upward plane is over-exaggerated, it’s tough to decipher right from wrong. This is especially true for players who bounce back and forth from coaches who preach short, aggressive compact swings that increase your chances of hard contact opposed to those who are preaching a hip to shoulder path with the goal of “lift” in mind.
One thing that I have a difficult time believing is that the game has changed to point where staying short and aggressive no longer applies. Has the game changed somehow that high strikeout rate is okay anymore, as long as you can lift one out of the yard now and then? Back in the day, that theory applied to maybe one or two “all or nothing” players in your lineup.
I am still a believer that a team full of players that can consistently put sharply hit balls into play again and again give your team the best chance of winning. What are the most unproductive outs in baseball? My answer is 1) the strikeout and 2) the pop-up/ fly ball. Sure, some will argue that the correct plane and contact spot on the ball will produce less pop-ups and more deeply hit balls. However, does that argument hold true for everyone though? How about your guys of smaller stature, who are still growing? Does this magical alteration in swing plane suddenly turn this kid into a 370 ft. masher? Doubt it!! This kid is now a fly ball out risk at best who’s now being told he needs to hit the weights a bit to add some power to his contact. This is the same kid that may get down the line in 4 seconds and possibly be on base for you every game. This is a kid who could maybe hit the ball hard to all fields as well as grind out at-bats; in other words, a real pest to the opposition. But no…he’s being cloned to develop the same swing that the 6’5 220lb kid has and then being told it will pay dividends down the road.
What happened to staying short, compact, through the zone with explosive movements in an attempt to hit the ball hard on a line? When did the focus of large muscles of the core controlling the swing get replaced with so much emphasis on the arms? I’ve always taught and always will teach that your arms are your biggest enemy on the way to the ball. My intent here is not a bashing session. Instead, I would love to hear some thoughts from the members.
Excellent topic. You eloquently lay out several issues in today's game.
Some of it is marketing. In the internet/social media age, coaches now have an opportunity to become a brand and earn a living "teaching" a "new" swing. To do this, you need buzzwords, a new philosophy and new terms in order to sell a product. These buzzwords, philosophies, and terms then spread quickly across social media.
Kids are being led to believe that if you don't hit the ball 400+ feet or throw 90+ you will not advance in the game. I could write for quite a while about this, but I'll jump back in after letting others respond.
Nice response Bill...I'm glad you touched on the whole money-making / marketing thing in your reply. I did not want to bring that up in the original post in an effort to remain un-biased and not make it sould like a bash.
I agree a hitter needs to know what type of hitter he is. If he is fast he should hit for line drives, drag bunts, his goal should be to get on base. If a player is strong and can drive the ball maybe not a bad idea to have them try and lift the baseball and be and RBI type guy. The problem I have is things like short swing? What does that even mean? Look at the new Rookie Acuna no one would say this guy has a short swing. I don't think the swing has really changed at all for the good hitters just the cliches hitting coaches use. I will take a team of super fast kids vs homerun hitters any day of the week. I also think the MLB baseball is super tight now and that is causing guys that would not hit that many homeruns to do just that. Look at some guys AAA power stats and compare to MLB it is crazy, they get to the bigs and all of a sudden are home run hitters? It should not work that way.
The MLB baseball is an interesting story. I'd love to see a journalist do some digging there. I don't want to get too far off Dave's original topic but last June this happened:
Major League Baseball has purchased an ownership stake in the company that makes Major League baseballs.
The 131-year-old Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. is being sold to a private equity fund for about $395 million, and MLB is a co-investor.
“MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887," Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology & innovation, said in a statement. "We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the Official Ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.”
By short swing, I simply meant short on the initial approach to the baseball, staying connected and letting core muscles initiate your swing.
My biggest issue is that this "New" swing is being taught at very young levels...around me we're talking at least 11U/12U. How is it not important to preach contact and the idea of keeping the bathead in the hitting zone as long as possible? There are 11 year olds being taught to try and hit the ball in the air as far as they can. They need to be taught what it means to develop and keep a good base under them, leverage and energy distribution before being deemed the other type of hitter.
I totally agree...
The lack of solid contact (barreling up the ball) is the problem. Too many "new" techniques are pushing kids to force shoulder tilt to cause an upward swing path. In this instance, the head moves wildly and contact rate decreases.
Watch this kid: (you have to think he struggles to hit live pitching)
Coaches.. very modestly speaking - After all the years I've been coaching and teaching hitters how to hit, I prefer to believe the culture of measuring Lift and Launch + Bat Speed has harmed and confused more potential baseball players than helped.
This past decade I've been bent towards studying the hitter's TIMING at home plate. What has helped me learn and understand TIMING at home plate better is watching the hitter's EYES as he swings or the hitter's HEAD because -
The Eyes / Head is a tunnel into the hitter's Brain / Mind ..
Watching the eyes helps us to understand what the hitter is trying to accomplish at home plate ..
When you watch the elite hitters hit - you'll quickly observe how they are more in touch with the balls "Next Position" vs. Trying to hit the ball over the fence ..
In today's hitting culture.. Most of our hitters are programmed to hit the ball as far as they can.
Because of this - I observe more and more hitters are lost at home plate and become "DISCONNECTED" with the flight path of the ball..
What do you think ..?
See attachment ....
I agree wholeheartedly with your observation. As mentioned by Bill S., these new measurements have opened the door for certain coaches to tailor their hitting instruction to these measurements. Unfortunately important things such as timing and rhythm get lost along the way. My whole take is, if a good hitter gets his pitch and his timing is spot on, then his swing is going to be good. The quality of the swing is the end result of these other factors. Success does not begin with the swing path. Therefore, the nuts and bolts of teaching young hitters shouldn't begin there either.
IF you do not classify a certain player as a good hitter, chances are it's not because of swing path. It's more likely due to factors such as rhythm, timing, energy transfer, ;leverage or remaining athletic throughout the swing. A kink in one or more of these factors can certainly contribute to a poor bat path. Correct the initial problem and the end result may fix itself.
Additionally.......This "New" swing is geared toward home runs. A lot of its premise is backed up by the fact that a ball travels downhill from a pitcher's hand. I've heard instructors make statements to hitters like, "You're 5' 8"...suppose your facing a 6'4" pitcher standing on an 18" mound with an overhead arm slot? Just imagine the downward plane the ball will travel on!! However, on the surface is that pitcher that tall upon release? I would say "not". Once he strides and gets arm extension upon release he is pretty much on flat ground with a release point around the hitter's shoulder....now, the ball will travel around 56 feet from there....how much of a decline are we talking? I would say a fastball thrown at 85 mph from this distance and being caught near the hitter's mid thigh is closer to a level plane than a near significant decline.
Also....on the premise that we are preparing hitters to hit the long ball. The best home run hitters in the game hit maybe 30 in a season. That's over a course of 600 or so at bats. That equates to a success rate of .050 or 5%. That is for the players deemed "Home Run Guys". What kind of success are we setting a 5'6" 150 lb kid for?
On the same note...why are we preparing hitters for something that only happens 5% of the time anyways???....and that's with elite power guys.
Most if not all swing finish on an "upward" plane. A lot of balls are contacted near the start of that upward movement. These are the balls that will have lift, without even trying. Why does the swing need an upward plane out of the gate?...it doesn't!! Upward plane right from the start equates to a back shoulder dropping. When this happen, you can't get off of your back side and therefore your energy stays there resulting in just a spiin...I guess squishing bugs is back in style,