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driving The Knob: a point of clarification

Posted by: nativetrout (nativetrout at earthlink dot net) on Mon Jul 10 16:48:01 2006

Chris. I share your frustration with youth level coaching. I often wonder how many kids we drive from baseball and how many natural talents we ruin (and confusion we create, especially where the swing is concerned) with all the bad information that gets imparted.

If I may, it seems you are both describing (and advocating) the same mechanics. The problem, it seems to me, is in the cue "taking the knob to the ball". You can see very clearly in the Rose swing (and in the countless swings photos I have collected) the knob directed toward the ball for a brief period of time.

In order to clarify the difference (in my own mind) between what Jack explains and what Chris is suggesting, I stood up and first, without rotating my shoulders at all, drove my hands from a load position towards an imaginary ball. What I found is that my hands quickly move away from my body in a straight line. It is only when my arms extend that my hands (and wrists) are forced to break and (presumably) this is where the barrel should "come about" and make contact with the ball (in linear mechanics). Also, importantly, it is only then that my shoulders begin to (indeed are forced to) rotate. I think this is what Jack interprets as the cue "take the knob (or your hands) to the ball". It is also what is probably intended.

However, when I kept my hands back, as Rose does, and began to rotate my upper body into the imaginary pitch, my hands following this circular path initiated by the rotation of my shoulders, the knob does in fact follow a trajectory towards the incoming ball for a BRIEF time.

My conclusion is that the cue "knob to the ball" presents a semantic problem. Perhaps rather than saying "take the knob to the ball" (which might be construed as "taking your hands to the ball") a cue could be, "while keeping your hands back, drive the knob to the ball by rotating your shoulders" or "make your initial move to the ball by rotating your shoulders". This could be supplemented by showing pictures (especially good are the head-on shots where the knob, bat angle and shoulder angle are concerned) for emulation.

One suggestion I have for teaching is to find the Flipp series of collectible baseball books. They come in baseball card packs and are super cheap (link is here or search on ebay: http://www.ttaylordesign.com/flipp/mlb.html ). They are flip books showing swings of Bonds, Soriano, Jeter, A. Jones etc (reverse side shows defensive plays). What is great is that you can show kids the swing (by flipping the pages) then look at the individual photos to prove your point. Then show it to other coaches to disprove their teaching cues (such as "your front foot is opening up!" or "you're pulling off the ball!, swinging up! level out your shoulders!" etc).

I think there needs to be an effort in youth baseball to re-think these old beliefs. Thank you Jack, for doing your part to do this.


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