Hacking the Swing

The ‘Cheat Codes’ for Understanding Hitting Metrics

 

“If you can’t explain it ‘Simply’, you don’t understand it well enough”  Albert Einstein

Hitting Metrics
The modern hitting metrics were introduced in the Hitting Is A Guess Video. Launch Angle, Exit Velocity and Line Drive Consistency or Contact Consistency ratings, the first ‘Hitting Metrics’ used to adjust mechanical swing efficiency, at least in a public forum.  We used simple tech to get swing output data and used that data to make adjustments to a Major League All Star, Jay Bell.  He added 10 MPH of Exit Velocity and changed his Launch Angle to a high line drive trajectory, the predecessor to Statcast’s ‘Barrel’ which is a ball hit at 25 to 30 degrees at 100 MPH.  The Trajectangle, was the original metric for Launch Angle.  Since then, the tools for measuring swing data have exploded but in the end, the data is only as good as your interpretation.  This series will cut to the chase and help you sift through all the noise to see what’s really important in swing design as well the proper interpretation of what all the data means and how to put it to work.

Ball Flight Laws
In golf, the ball can only have 9 basic flight patterns.  For example, as a right handed golfer, you can hit the ball directly at the target and have the ball stay on a straight line, pull the ball to the left of the target or push the ball to the right of the target.  Then, depending on whether the club face is open, closed or square to the line the club is swinging, the spin is determined and that causes hook, slice or straight flight.  3 directions that the ball can start with 3 different spins that together, make up 9 flight patterns.  All the 9 ball flight possibilities are determined by simple cause and effect.  In essence, you can watch ball flight and not look at the golfer’s swing and know what caused any particular ball flight.  Reverse engineering the swing through ball flight.

9 Ball Flight Laws Golf

Hacking the Swing Series
In hitting a baseball or softball, there are some commonalities in this reverse engineering ball flight approach we learned from the golf world.  This is part of knowing what the data is telling you and understanding Effective Velocity, which in hitting, is timing metrics.  If you have all the data from the ball and even the hitter’s body movements, but don’t understand the data or movements thoroughly, you are likely to design inefficient swing movements.  The Hacking the Swing video series will walk you through step by step the correct interpretation and how to affect positive change with the most efficient movements, tested thoroughly for over 2 decades at every level.

This is how Rachel Garcia, UCLA Freshman of the Year, added 11 MPH of Exit Velocity and went from 5.4 degrees of Launch Angle to 9.8 degrees with only simple mechanical adjustments.  It’s one thing to positively change swing output with training hitters for a period of time and another to bring about ‘immediate’ changes that significant.  It is also one thing to make positive gains with beginning players but immediate gains with elite players equals only one thing, increasing the swing efficiency through mechanics.  Swing Efficiency is about getting the most power and contact consistency possible.  Fortunately, as in golf, consistent contact and power tend to go hand in hand.

The other key to this series is that we will keep the costs at a minimum and help you create your own ‘Low Tech’ lab at home or at your cage or facility.  With minimal data and maximum understanding and interpretation, you can be your own best instructor.  You will always be your own best instructor.  While the sophisticated tech can ‘See’ what you and the ball are doing, only you can ‘feel’ what is happening.  The key element is to blend your ‘feel’ to the visual of the movements and the proper interpretation of the swing data.  This program is to teach you to teach yourself the keys to an efficient swing. After you graduate ‘Swing School’, then it is time to learn to hit.

Exit Velocity Cheat Codes
We were the first to introduce Exit Velocity as a swing metric as well as the best ways to create it.  Our concepts are the most copied in the world of hitting.  Plyometric hitting concepts of overload and underload training for bat speed and timing were introduced in the Hitting Is A Guess video when it was only available in VHS.  Many readers will not even know what VHS is.  Balance Boards, resistance belt training and many other aspects of teaching the body to stretch the right rubber bands at the right time to maximize bat speed were part of that original work in 2001.  It doesn’t stop with bat speed alone because it is then a matter of making sure the bat speed is applied at the right time to maximize Exit Velocity.  And……… it doesn’t even stop there, because it is still possible to be on time and lose energy at impact, reducing Exit Velocity.

The only way to maximize Exit Velocity is to combine all the elements efficiently.  Data is simply a way to view the symptoms, it is not the fix all by itself.  Our goal with this video is to cut to the chase with the movements, timing and diagnosis to make sure you are as efficient as possible.  If you have not tested your swing using this methodology, you really don’t know for sure that your swing is at maximum efficiency, power and consistency.

Launch Angle Cheat Codes
First, Launch Angle is not a verb.  Meaning, you don’t just decide to ‘Launch Angle’ one day and you eliminate all groundballs and begin hitting only hard line drives and homers.  Launch Angle is a ‘Guess’.  Even the best hitters do not control Launch Angle.  The hitter only controls the things that lead to contact and the contact is subject to the laws of two round objects colliding.  The round ball and the round bat can only produce 3 possible types of contact.  (1) Perfect Contact where both centers hit exactly in the center of each other (2) Below Center contact producing a flyball of one degree or another and (3) Above Center contact producing a groundball of one degree or another.

No matter what the internet tells you, you can’t “just say no to groundballs”.  The direction the ball leaves your bat is mostly out of your control.  In 394 fastballs in the exact center of the zone, Josh Donaldson only hit 1.9% perfect, according to the goal of hitting the ball at 25 to 30 degrees up.  He also hit about 37% groundballs, even though he has sworn off.  That is certainly not a negative about Josh Donaldson, tt is simply that difficult to hit a round ball with a round bat, perfectly. He is one of the most elite hitters in baseball and even with perfect pitches, Launch Angle is not controllable anywhere near 100%.

In this video, we will cover how to test and train Launch Angle.  While you can’t just turn Launch Angle on, you can begin practicing all the things that produce your ideal Launch Angle.

Contact Consistency Cheat Codes
Hitting the ball consistently hard and on the right trajectory is the formula for getting hits.  224 hitters at the MLB level, have batting averages between .400 and .749 on groundballs hit at 100 MPH or more while exactly 0 hitters hit .400 and only the top 10 hit .200 or more on flyballs at 90 MPH or less.  In other words, it is not whether you hit a flyball or a groundball but rather the ‘quality’ of the flyball, line drive and groundballs that you hit.  Every hitter will hit about 40% flyballs, about 40% groundballs and about 20% in the line drive category.  The key is to hit hard flyballs, hard groundballs and of course, hard line drives.

There are movements in the swing that directly correlate to better contact.  This video will walk you through the analysis of the movements that will create the best mechanics for hitting the ball hard at the right trajectories.

100/100 – Timing Cheat Codes
The single most important of all elements of hitting.  Timing is talked about everywhere but unless you have an understanding of the Effective Velocity Hitting (Ev) concept of 100/100, it is very unlikely that you are at your maximum levels of timing.  100% on time contact with a swing that is 100% efficient, in other words, perfectly on time with your ‘A’ swing.  Ev Hitting is about understanding how to blend your most efficient swing mechanics with perfect timing.

This video course will teach you to become a ‘Hunter’.  Make no mistake, you are either hunting or you are being hunted.  You will learn to identify pitch speeds better as well as drills to enhance your timing.  There are many layers of timing involved in hitting a baseball or softball.  The timing of synching the body parts to make your ‘A’ swing as well as synching the body timing to the exact reactionary timing of the pitch.  100/100 is the idea of being 100% on time with 100% swing efficiency.  If a hitter squares the ball on the barrel but cheats their mechanics in order to do it, they lose Exit Velocity and no longer at 100/100.

Training Tools
‘HAX’ – Hitters’ Training Band – Warm Up B4BP
We are re-introducing a product designed as a hitter warm up tool.  The surgical tubing band is made for warming up the upper body as well as certain swing movement drills.  As the original designer of the J-Bands, HAX is made with the same quality tubing and neoprene grips for comfort and to simulate a bat handle for drills.  Think of this as hitters’ ‘arm circles’, but with many other movement specific benefits.  For the same reason that pitchers need tubing to ‘Pre-Hab’ their arm/shoulder for injury prevention and improving arm strength and health, hitters need this as well.  Beginning with rotator cuff muscles, you can also warm up and strengthen the lower back, abs, obliques, forearms, wrists and the entire upper body gets the arm circle treatment.

The resistance of tubing is best for rehab and prehab because of the nature of it.  Tubing increases tension as you go, making it ideal for baseball movements.  I introduced tubing into the world of baseball in the late 1980’s and this is another innovation in that line.

Resistance Belt for Hitters
There are many copies, but the Resistance Belt was first.  In 2001, the Hitting Is A Guess Video featured this belt for training hitters to load with leverage as well learning to create ‘Hang Time’, the mid swing timing movement that allows for maximum power when adjusting to speed variations.

This series will also feature video descriptions on DIY projects for simulating some of the slightly more expensive equipment designed to help you focus on key movement patterns.

XLR8 Timing Balls
The XLR8 Foam Timing Balls are simply the very best timing tool available.  You can recreate many elements of a real pitch in 18-20 feet of flight.  The golf ball sized foam timing balls are designed with different densities.  This let’s the pitcher use the same arm speed and create multiple pitch types of various speeds.  With a little practice and knowledge of how a regular ball moves, you can learn to create slider and curveball movements but also sinkers, cutters and the ‘rise effect’ of the 4 seam fastball.