An Experiment? Yeah! So What’s In an Elite Baseball Swing Anyway?
I read a lot of stuff about hitting and hitting instruction.
I was recently sick and somewhat bedridden if you will, due to my all too typical bronchial flu bout that has afflicted me for as many January’s as I can remember. All I could do was read and watch TV. I did a lot of both for sure.
Of course I read a lot of stuff about hitting and hitting instruction—-I think I have somewhat of a professional obligation to know what’s “out there” as far as hitting instruction. I’ve done a lot of this over the last decade for sure. But this was the very first time that I actually looked at twitter.
Now some may be shocked or disbelieving and possibly even offended at this: “Steve, are you kidding me …you’re NOT on twitter…at least every day if not every hour!” Uh…well….no I’m not, is my unapologetic answer!!
But I DID see something on twitter that made me think about the possibility that maybe I SHOULD be on twitter at least from time to time. During the course of reading some hitting stuff I ran across a comment that was illustrative of what I mean: “Yea, I was wondering about where Steve has been…he had some good stuff in the past” (I’m paraphrasing here).
My first thought was to recall the Mark Twain quip….. “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The fact is that I have had my own website since 2006. Oddly enough the name of the site is englishbeyhitting.com. And on my site I have over 12,000 posts. Many of which are quite long and detailed descriptions and analysis of almost every conceivable aspect of baseball and softball swing mechanics, developing a really good swing, how to be a really effective teacher (hitting instructor), and on and on.
I currently sell a number of hitting instruction videos. One is a two part video in which I use my own swings to show what I think are the essential swing characteristics of elite level players. And yes I did say I am using MY OWN swings to show these characteristics.
I spent over 4 years and thousands of hours practicing “my stuff” and applying what I have come to know about how an elite level swing actually happens to my own self swinging a bat. In doing this I actually RE-learned how to more effectively utilize my body to swing a bat — more effectively relative to when I actually played with the Houston Astros organization years ago.
Yes you heard that correctly; I AM saying that I swing the bat much more like an elite level hitter as a 50 plus year old guy, compared to when I was a 20 year old guy.
Understanding the Elite Level Swing
When I reached the point at which I thought I could not physically improve upon my swing, I picked out about 60 of what I thought were my best swings and I used those to make these two videos: Understanding the Elite Level Swing, Part 1 and 2. To my knowledge, no instructor has ever attempted to engage in such a process of physical application of conceptual hitting concepts. And few instructors can make the claim that they can actually swing the bat like an elite level hitter via their own methods of teaching. Or that they use their own methods to LEARN how to substantially improve their own swing. [nor can many ACTUALLY show how their teaching methods substantially improve most of the players they actually work with —but more about this in the future].
I engaged in this process, something I named as “Steve’s Swing Experiment” for one fundamental reason. I knew that by physically engaging in trying to apply the kinds of concepts that I think best explain an elite level swing to my own baseball swing, I would better learn as to how to become a MORE EFFECTIVE TEACHER! And that is exactly what happened!
In this context, I would say that in looking around the internet at various hitting websites and in looking at some the self-described “hitting gurus”, what I found was a myriad of guys attempting to write in sometimes EXCRUCIATING detail about ALL the many and subtle variations of elite level swings. But what I saw very little of was any real substantive understanding as to how to go about teaching a 12 to 16 year old how to go about breaking their flawed movement patterns.
Flawed Baseball or Softball Hitting Movements
As I have said MANY times, there is a VERY DISTINCT difference between analysis and application. Meaning, to take a single example, that one can perfectly analyze the movements and muscle actions of Barry Bonds, but EFFECTIVELY applying that analysis to help a 12 year old overcome his or her FLAWED baseball or softball hitting movements and muscle actions is very distinct from simply analyzing Barry Bonds. Again, I am simply broaching a subject that I have a professional interest in, baseball and softball hitting instruction. I will be talking about this “disconnect” between good analysis and effective teaching in a number of future articles.
Hitting Instructional Videos
But I digress a little here —back to the subject of what I offer. Along with the instructional video I cited above I also make available by subscription:
1) A 40 minute “show and tell” video wherein I explain as to how to effectively practice a LEAD ARM SWING. I show how to how to do it and how to NOT do it. In this latter context I have yet to see a SINGLE example anywhere that I think is an EFFECTIVE way to set-up and practice a lead arm swing.[Note that I have highlighted the word “effective” a number of times here. Again in future articles I will talking much more about the LARGE difference between practicing to swing,and EFFECTIVE practice. Few that I see are actually practicing in ways that I think are really effective].
2) A similar type video as regards effective ways to set-up and practice a BACK ARM SWING.
3) A similar show and tell type video where I demonstrate basic functional type exercises that are DIRECTLY related to learning to utilize the body to swing a bat more effectively.[In the not too distant future I will be offering several videos on specific kinds of functional exercises that directly pertain to developing better movement patterns specific to throwing and swinging—many of these exercises I designed and have physically been doing myself over the last 15 years].
4) Another show and tell type video wherein I am showing how to practice some of the basic movement patterns of the trunk and legs that elite level hitters are typically creating; the overall pattern of these very coordinated joint actions of the legs and trunk I have labelled the “SIT and TURN” unloading pattern of elite level hitters.[In the first video I mentioned above wherein I used my own swings, there is an entire section that focuses on this “Sit and Turn” concept].
I would only add here that I will be developing an entire series of instructional videos that cover many aspects of swing development, and/or how to become a more effective teacher as regards trying to help non-elite baseball and softball hitters how to really learn to overcome the kinds of typical flaws that I see in most non-elite hitters.
As you can see, as regards what I have been doing over the last 5 or so years regarding teaching hitters and writing about hitting, it certainly IS true that rumors of my demise are a bit premature!
As I initially talked about here—maybe I DO need to better utilize some of the social media platforms —like twitter, you tube, Facebook, etc——so as to better insure that people do know that I’m still around!
The fact is that I HAVE spent a tremendous amount of time and effort working at the craft of becoming a more effective teacher of hitting instruction and baseball and softball swing development over the last 15 years. And in the future I will be make this effort more understood and more recognized by those who I sincerely believe CAN be helped by this effort and experience.
What information in this article surprised you the most? Do you experiment with your swing? Tell me about it in the comments!
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