The BioForce Baseball Blog     
Changing Your Pitching or Hitting Mechanics-Can be Just a Band Aid


Dear BioForce Faithful,

 

Yesterday I was working with one of our more dedicated athletes. I’ve been working with Willie on his pitching and hitting for a couple of years now. He’s got an absolute beautiful left-handed stroke. During our hitting session yesterday, we had a great conversation about hitting and pitching mechanics. Or the conversation went more towards the absence of mechanics.

 

Over the years, I’ve made the typical coaching mistake by over-coaching mechanics. Let me explain….

 

Willie had an amazing spring and summer season for hitting. I believe he hit over 600. Yes, 600. And this wasn’t in a slouch league either. He absolutely crushed the ball against every pitcher. Fast pitchers, slow pitchers, junk-ballers…. All of them.

 

This fall Willie decided to play fall ball. Surprisingly, he flat-out struggled with his hitting. What was different? He stepped up from 8th grade ball to a high school fall league. The league used only wood bats. His struggles were popping up more often, ground out way too much, and striking out much more often then he ever had. Willie handled the frustration and disappointment well and is working harder than ever but was searching for answers. We hadn’t been together much during the fall, so I hadn’t had a chance to watch him.

 

Towards the end of his fall season, Willie met his new high school coach started working with him and other players from time-to-time. And what’s the first thing this coach and assistant started to do with his swing? Of course they went to do a wholesale change of his hitting mechanics. To say the least, this fall has been frustrating for Willie between the changes in the league, and the changes the coach was trying to make.

 

I had a day or so to think about our training session before meeting with my student. How as I going to approach his frustration? What should we work on?

 

My first thought was to try and get away from talking mechanics and get back to hitting.

 

So, my strategy on our session was to review what he accomplished last season then listen, ask questions, and let him come to some conclusions. I first asked him about his success this past spring and summer. Of course Willie’s eyes lighted up, and was very proud of his accomplishments. I then asked what changed during the fall. After some thought and a few stabs at it, he came up with a great answer, that the pitching was consistently faster, and the bat was different, and the coach wanted him to make some big changes in his mechanics.

 

And what did he and the high school coach do when he struggled? They attempted to put band-aids on the problem by shortening his stride, landing on the toe, staying back…. A ton of the old-school teaches. And it just cluttered his brain.

 

So what did we do?

 

We talked about the definition of pitching or hitting mechanics. Simply put, your body needs to work in a certain order, or sequence, the hit or throw the ball with consistency, power, and accuracy. That is mechanics. When your sequencing gets out of order, then you struggle.

 

The underlying factor to this out of order sequencing is rhythm, tempo, and timing. We spent most of the session working on his timing and not talking about mechanics. I believe timing is different than mechanics. Especially if you are an accomplished athlete, your mechanics are probably just fine. Sometimes we get out of whack. Stay focused on your timing mechanism, not necessarily the mechanics of the swing.

 

So that’s what we did. And you know what? Willie stroked the ball all session….with a wood bat no less. We got rid of the clutter in his head, and focused on being on time. And what that means for hitting I’ll leave for another day.

 

So, what is your timing mechanism? Spend some time on that, and you will reap the benefits.

 

Train like a champion today!

 

Coach Bill Mooney

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2 Responses to “Changing Your Pitching or Hitting Mechanics-Can be Just a Band Aid”


  1.   Will Says:

    As a current and former Coach of many sports, I am extremely impressed with the obvious yet simple solution described in the hitting article above,

    IO have coached every age group and for years have said to players, parents, other Coaches, anyone who was interested, that the single most unproductive if not the single worst strategy in teaching hitting is to fill the student’s head with too much information too quickly.

    Sure you do not want a hitter up there standing on the plate, or some simple obvious mechanical mistake, so there is good information to be had from experienced and educated instructors.

    However, it seems it is human nature, especially when an instructor is being compensated, to do something, and other than act like a pitching machine, the only other thing left is verbal instruction.

    I think it is over justification of the instructor’s position.

    I don’t think it is all bad, but it sure is all over.

    My Son is 15 going on 16, should play Varsity baseball at shortstop this year, quite an accomplishment.

    I take credit for getting him off on the right track, worked with him day and night since he was 4 to about 13, I quit Coaching him several times around the age of 8 or 9 so he could get experience under other philosophies. That did not work well, as we ran into every ego maniac, every ” JOE Pick up Truck” with as much knowledge and education in baseball instruction as my wife. [No slam on my wife, she is just not a sports instructional type, and there are many, who have an interest, training and education in the mechanics of sports, are great Coaches and Teachers].

    You could not be more correct, in the advice and example above.

    Too many well meaning Dad’s, Professionals, all have this need to justify there position, or at least it is my observation of why this happens.

    Think about trying to learn how to say learn any skill you currently do not possess.

    Let’s pick juggling. Could you imagine trying to keep two balls in the air, let alone three or more, with someone constantly filling your head with tips and how to’s, the instructions become distractions.

    Clutter in the head, a great term which describes the issue perfectly.

    Right now my Son is taking hitting lessons from an instructor who has experience in the minor leagues, he is from the Boston area, and by his own admittance goes 90 to nothing, we are here in Kansas City, no where the pace of the East Coast.

    I have dealt with many from the east coast through business, and yes they seem to be more high strung than those to the west.

    Not all is bad, just that it can be annoying when you are not used to there natural communication.

    So add on the fact that an instructor needs to justify his position, then add on the fact he is from the east coast, it is almost non-stop chatter.

    I however agree with his basic approach to hitting, especially teaching the ability or awareness of how to self correct, right on the mound if something starts to go wrong.

    I find teachers who teach how to self correct are the best regardless of experience or tenure, Dad or Pro.

    Because you can perform a specific skill, does NOT mean you can teach that skill to others or anyone for that matter.

    Some people are teachers, and some are not, regardless of the skill, it is always somewhat helpful if the instructor i sports has some playing experience, just as it is important to have Governmental officials that have had experience in business, relationships,. etc, which we have experienced the horrible failure when we have instructors or law makers with no experience what so ever.

    So well written and great point, I wish you luck in getting it across, as it has not worked well for me in thirty years.

    People love to talk, regardless of the results, people need to justify, and on it goes, but you are correct, too much junk in the head is not a good thing.

    I do like the fact that his current instructor, although a constant talker, is teaching the right things, a little learning by the student of how to ignore certain distractions is not a bad skill either.

    I would prefer that learning to ignore or deal with distractions be on purpose, not a bi-product.

    Well written, and well thought out article.

    They have a high speed camera at his school, where they will take about 4 or 5 minutes of hitting for feedback, and provide the student with a static photo, not a dvd of the action, they keep that, and charge $20.00 for it.

    I cannot purchase my Son’s live video, they keep it and provide it to a Coach if requested for $5.00.

    Why not let me have it for $5.00? I have no idea.

    They are selling this like hotcakes, I would love to be able to offer something like it, which is what caught my eye with your software, but a high speed camera is just that, and software, I have my doubts can replicate the value of replaying the action frame by frame.

    But if there were something, I coach, my Son plays not only School ball but Legion Ball, I have contacts everywhere and k now I could sell this kind of feedback if it where readily available.

    It is the same old thing, selling anything is much more likely if you have it or something in your hand, that is why this high speed photograph, which in a static mode of maybe 16 small frames printed out is mostly worthless.

    What is needed is live action like you have, but my concern is trying to get enough quality out of the video without a high speed camera, and simply using your everyday camcorder.

    I am not a photography expert, but I have seen and have tried to evaluate from off the shelf commercial cameras.

    I even put a two hour video together some twenty years ago, patching in VHS, dubbing music over, adding in stills, mixed with live video. It came out great, I used three VCRS. cassette tapes, a ton of hours, and the end result was four tapes, which I had a professional, put together for the final tape.

    So I have had experience, with ancient technology and modern technology.

    I just see what sells, and while your product is no doubt a better product with much more information than a one page sheet of frames.

    But the one page is there to be exchanged for a $20.00 bill, that sells it.

    If you ever come with something that can be sold on site, let me know, I might be interested.

    Enjoyed your article, again you are right on track, too much clutter is nothing but a distraction.

    Basics are basics, physics are physics, Pros hit from all kinds of stances and swings, and very successfully, none exactly the same, some very different in both stance and swing..

    Again I enjoyed reading one of the few articles that mentions the fact that instructors simply pile too much information on in too short a time, regardless if the information might be correct or not, the shear amount of information takes away from the basic purpose of what we are doing, hitting a ball.

    Will Babbitt

  2.   admin Says:

    Thank you Will for the nice post.

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