This hitting diary records my work with my college hitters during the 2017 baseball season.
Our statistics are available on the Internet if you are interested in understanding the impact I've been able to have on the program and our rankings within our conference.
HSSU Hitting Diary
I've broken this hitting diary up into two sections, one that gives you a sense of what I'm thinking about each week and another that contains some thoughts about individual hitters.
2016 Hitting Diary
I joined HSSU with just a few weeks to go before the season started, so I focused on our hitters' Approach more than mechanics.
One semi-mechanical thing that I did talk about with the guys, and that made a dramatic difference, was Contact and the related concepts of...
Just changing what guys tried to do at contact had a huge impact.
2017 HITTING DIARY
I worked with the hitters at HSSU during the entire Fall and up until Spring Break or so, at which point some of the other coaches started trying to push me out because they didn't like what I was teaching.
Even though it was working.
We're getting ready to come back from the break, and I had a talk with our head coach about what to focus on. His comment was...
- Let's get their HANDS going/working.
...my thought was...
- Let's get their HIPS going/working.
HANDS/HIPS reflects an all too common debate within baseball and I explain where, as a result of direct experience, I come down on the debate in The Problem.
- Swing Length
- Bat Drag
Spent some time talking about Rotation, Lag, and Jose Altuve with one of our hitters who has ridiculously good hand-eye coordination. I think he could hit for an even higher average if he hit the ball a bit harder. To do that, he needs to rotate a bit more and maintain his Lag for a bit longer.
One of our hitters' swings is very similar to Randal Grichuk's. Power but lack of Adjustability. Arm bar. Pull-hooking. Root cause of the problem is not being taught about Y-Axis Adjustability. In truth, being coached out of Tilt.
Also causes problems with Alignment. Loses the Vertical V too soon on pitches down because he has to drop his hands.
Also talked about tracking the ball more with the eyes than the head. Not dropping the chin. Jason Heyward's problem.
Open Top Hand Drill for a couple of hitters whose swings are just a bit long because they collapse the Triangle.
Theme = Give guys permission to be Athletic...
- Back leg angle.
- Y-Axis Adjustability.
- Front foot angle.
Lots of work on Coil.
Swing with your HIPS, adjust with your HANDS.
If you get the Hips generating power, then the Hands are free to adjust.
Point of Emphasis = The Front Foot
- We should lead the league in doubles.
- Home runs and singles are OK, but I'd like to see more doubles and walks.
- The Worst Cue in the World.
- My Main Mantra.
- Moving Forward While Staying Back.
- The Front Foot
- Get the Front Foot Down Early?
- The Contribution of the Front Foot to Adjustability.
- The Message I got through to Matt Holliday.
- Z-Axis Adjustability.
- Albert Pujols Drill.
Emphasis for the week ahead = Adjustability.
This weekend we faced a team that threw up some hard throwers and some guys who didn't throw that hard. I viewed our success against soft tossers as a sign that our work on Adjustability is working, but we have more work to do.
I traveled with the team for the first time this weekend. We beat the other team 33-5 over two games. I thought people might be interested in what I tell my hitters during games...
- Get a good pitch to hit. Hard.
- Hunt fastballs up until your get 2 strikes.
- Let it happen. Don't try to make it happen.
- Swing for doubles. Let God take care of the home runs.
We are in the top 5 in the nation for the NAIA in five offensive categories. Here are some thoughts to get us to Number 1...
- Covering the top of the strike zone.
- Not taking hittable pitches.
- Not letting hittable pitches go by.
- Hitting the fastball up.
- High tee drill.
- Not trying to lift the ball.
- Letting the barrel lift the ball.
- Front foot.
- Front foot angle at Foot Plant.
- Z-Axis Adjustability.
- Adjusting to hit off-speed pitches.
- Leaky back elbows.
- Swing Length.
- Hitting to the opposite field with power.
- Swinging from the inside-out.
- Compact as you turn the corner.
- Flying open, pulling off the ball is normal. Necessary to hitting the ball hard.
- As long as it's properly timed.
- Axe grip.
- Hank Aaron.
Thoughts About Individual Hitters
In this section I collect my notes about individual hitters, especially their weaknesses and what I need to keep an eye on.
- Standing too far forward in the box.
- Has a tendency to listen to everyone and anyone.
- When what he needs to be thinking and asking is "Is that what the best hitters (actually) do?"
At the beginning of our Fall practices, I asked our hitters to...
- Show me Contact
- Show me How You Get to Contact
The thing I immediately noticed about Jordan was that he dropped his hands. As a result, he was literally unable to cover the upper half of the strike zone.
We spent a lot of time talking about Alignment.
Some of the cues that worked for Jordan include...
- Aim your front elbow at the ball.
2018 HITTING DIARY
Saw HSSU play for the first time since I and they decided to go in a different direction.
1. 2B/HR RATIO: Troubling. Upside down. Not enough doubles. I'm looking for 2 or 3 times as many 2Bs & 3Bs as HRs.
2. STACKED: "Stacked" aka upright was the advice of some coaches last year. It's created adjustability problems on balls down.
when it comes to the 2B to HR ratio, what I'm looking for is 2 or 3 times as many 2Bs and 3Bs combined, as home runs. The idea is to hit the ball HARD, but not try to hit home runs. HitTrax is screwing that up. Creating power swings at cost of adjustability and AVG.
3. ADJUSTABILITY: Problems with Adjustability...
- Y-Axis Adjustability => Dropping the Hands.
- Z-Axis Adjustability => Lunging and WAY out in front of off-speed pitches.
Are they still using my Z-Axis Adjustability Drill?
Killing me to watch HSSU hitters struggle, but this was exactly what I was afraid would happen. Some wanted to go in a different, more traditional, direction. I left b/c didn't want to b associated with what I knew was a bad paradigm.
I've seen a couple of games, and what's hurting the guys?
- STACKED/UPRIGHT/TALL: No Tilting. No Diving. For leverage? IDK. But the result is the guys have to disconnect and drop their hands on anything below the letters, which kills their efficiency.
- IMPATIENT & STUPIDLY AGGRESSIVE: Last year we were all about getting a good pitch to hit. Being very selective until you get 2 strikes. Now guys are swinging at pitches they don't need to way too early on in counts.
- PUSHING: Last year we were all about letting the ball come to us, especially the fastball, in large part because it gave us Z-Axis adjustability. Now the guys are hitting fastballs out front and are screwed when they get off-speed.
- BAD FRONT FEET: I know closed front foot is all the rage, but it can and usually does cause problems with...
B. Adjustability. Of course some folks think Flying Open is an actual problem, so they don't see A as a problem.
- LEVEL SHOULDERS/SWING: This is related to the (stupid) concept of Stacked. The problem is, if you try to hit the ball while keeping your shoulders level, you can't help but drop your hands, which kills the efficiency of ur swing. Then you have to swing harder which kills AVG.
Pull crazy. Trying to pull pitches over the outer third.