If you are following along on Instagram, I will be taking questions from players, coaches, trainers, and parents to write a Monday Mailbag article. My goal is going to do this every Monday. We will see how that goes in 2019. This will be completely anonymous so feel free to fire away anything, and I will do my best to answer your questions as best I can. Without any further rambling, let’s get going
1. How would you build a youth players swing?
This one is really easy. Speed is the foundation. From the beginning, you should be learning to swing the bat as hard as you can. Next to that you need to be trying to hit the ball as far as you can. I have two kids myself, seven and four, and my goal is to leave them as uncoached and natural as possible for as long as possible. Also, “training” should always be made fun. From a young age, players need to develop a love and passion for “practice” so that when things get ramped up as the level up in the game, they are willing to do the necessary work to survive and advance because they love it above anything else.
2. What is the most common physical weakness in youth players and how do you correct it?
Most young players don’t rotate their center of mass very well. I don’t know if this is considered a physical weakness, but we spend a lot of time without a bat just learning to rotate their bodies in space.
3. How important is grip strength in creating Bat speed and exit velocity?
In short, it’s important, but not for the reasons that you might think or believe. Your hand/forearm strength isn’t an active accelerator of the bat. Understanding the principals of the kinematic sequence, energy builds from the ground up, and through each segment, speed builds and energy transfers. If there is a weak link in the chain, then energy/speed will not transfer and ultimately get through the bat and into the ball. A weak grip and weak forearms could limit your ability to ultimately produce bat speed and barrel acceleration through an inefficient link in your chain.
4. What would a lesson look like with you?
First, I don’t like the “l” word. We don’t do lessons we train athletes. Assuming that everything starts with a data-based assessment of key swing metrics, video, and batted ball metrics to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the individual hitter. This usually consists of around 100 swings.
With that out of the way, we follow the Frans Bosch Specificity model building movements and drills from least specific to most specific. Our training process looks something like this:
- Med Ball drills in the three planes of movement to get the athlete moving and rotating
- Pre Hitting Prep Drills. This involves mobilities as well as deliberately slow focused movements on primary framework hitting pieces such as posture, disassociation of the pelvis and torso, as well as completing trunk rotation. This process from slow to fast and builds into overload bat constraint progressions
- Overload Bat Constraint Drills. This is a series of drills again built to isolate large framework pieces, work from most constrained to least, and each drill builds through the four swing phases; load/gather, transition, acceleration and turn.
- Overspeed swings. Recently we have taken the underload bat out of our hitting process and put it into a speed stick series with the swing speed radar
- Flip or BP variations – we usually try to get 45-60 swings here. It’s a random number with a lot of randomnesses involved. End load, knob loads, overloaded constraint, two plate, three plate, angles. Whatever we can think up to make it challenging on timing and adaptation of the barrel in space.
- Velocity. Always velocity. The ultimate goal is to hit game speed heaters. We have a HitTrax, so we play hit games, but you should have some sort of game or competition out of hitting heaters.
Frans Bosch Specificity Model
There you go. Mailbag down. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and submit your questions on Sunday nights!