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Re: Re: Re: Re: To Tom Guerry

Posted by: tom.guerry (tom.guerry@kp.org) on Tue Dec 11 15:58:54 2001

> I'm sorry but that was a direct question that did not get a direct response. Again: "what might be the specific technique you would recomend to slightly delay the torso acceleration?"
> The best that I could get out of your response was things like 'just do it', 'no simple explanations', 'look at some video clips/, etc.
> It seems that "slightly delaying the torso acceleration" is a big part of your theory for hitting the outside pitch,and I don't think it's too much to ask how you do it. If you can't even explain some techniques in which to accomplish it , how can someone be expected to accept it as truth?
> I have the clips of Nomar, Aaron and many others and even with the Nomar side-by-side clips it is impossible to do anything but guess what he might possibly be doing, if anything at all to "delay the torso acceleration"
> I hope this post is not taken in the wrong spirit. True, you wrote a lengthy & thoughtful response, but: CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER MY QUESTION, WHICH IS: what might be the specific technique you would recomend to slightly delay the torso acceleration?"
> Thank You


I appreciate your taking the time to wade through all that.One point I would reinforce is that there is an important distinction between underlying principles that need to be adhered to and specific techniques that are employed to learn the best possible swing.Think of the techniques as your toolbox and the swing as the finished product.You will use a variety of tools,and different ones at different times.You must stay focussed on the final goal,however,and not end up trying to perfect some intermediary "cue" or "technique".You have to have learned a satisfactory visual approach and motor program for the full range of pitch speeds/locations or the pitchers will smoke you out.These have to be automatic/subconscious.Ahead of time you are mentally prepared for a given situation-maybe looking for something in a particular half or quadrant or at a particular speed or a particular range of possibilities.This may be associated with a certain swing thought but that's about the full conscious extent of it.

I would encourage you to read Nyman's comments on the Nomar thread closely.

-Most hitting instruction is based on specific techniques which are presented as principles(which they are not).

-Choose the right goal and verify you are meeting it.

-Choose a final motor goal and let the body solve the problem.

Paul's method is to use batspeed and timing feedback with over/underload training.Working on maximum batspeed with solid sweetspot contact for different locations and giving immediate feedback can give you info on how you are meeting your goal(quickest possible swing from launch to contact--batspeed/timing error can be measured and immediately displayed).Specific technique is in the form of "mechanical guardrails" which may be more or less a "cue" than "reality".Even video reality is not an accurate representation of how the internal(invisible)workings of the individual's body are going about solving the "problem".Doing this final translation is the crux of effective coaching.

Jack accomplishes much the same thing using the heavy bag where you must have gotten to max speed before coasting(launched bat pulling hands)into the bag.

I think most coaches who have spent years trying to figure out what goes on and how to teach it can put together a system of "techniques" that work if they have a reasonable understanding of how the swing is produced(Mankin-Nyman-Epstein swing model),even without the fancy gadgets.When I use various techniques to apply these fundamental principles,I always see kids make more progress than when I coached in the dark days.I try out different cues(as few as possible)to encourage the body learning in a way that adheres to the principles.

OK,Batman,so I can hear you saying "Just answer the dang question!" I will try to be brief by glossing over a lot.There is not one specific technique but a number of cues and drills to try to assist learning mechanics that adhere to principles.

You have to start with the basics including teaching process,goals,expectations,etc.Go over grip,stance,visual tracking,attitude,overcoming fear,etc.etc.

You could say just skip this stuff and assume the kid already knows this,however,I agree with Epstein,that virtually every kid lunges.Except for a few pitchers and golfers,they have NEVER used the muscles or balance required to rotate the body sequentially to harness the kinetic chain energy.Maybe in the old days a few who hit hours a day figured this out,but I never see it.Even if you knew how to coil and uncoil,it can't be done unless the upper body includes a circular handpath.So I first work on the basic swing sequence ,how to move the body and how not to lunge.I teach the motion like RQL described it: turn(inward)-step(stride)-swing.Hands stay back until front foot comes down,then swing starts "in one piece" hands fixed to torso .Front foot coming down(body coiled)is trigger for starting swing by turning hips.This often feels like hips and torso turning together as discussed here which should not be interpreted as lack of separation.I like this front foot trigger/pulling sensation as the start of the swing.I get into striding onto toe/heel for older or more experienced kids.Then I am specific about the feel of firing the bathead by turning it between the hands as the way the hands get involved once the swing is under way.Then we progress from dry swing to tee to front toss to live pitching,trying to do a little bit of each in the same session so things carry over.So lets assume we get the kid to the point that the basic principles are being followed-stationary axis/no lunging/circular handpath/torque firing the bathead/smooth tempo/good sequencing.Timing is related to when the front foot comes down,and for tempo smooth acceleration is important.Better to be late,then speed up as swing progresses than to be early.Inside/out recognition is early,so this is the basis for adjusting torso timing.

I usually deal with young kids,and there is no way they can cover the whole plate,so I start them off close to the plate and work a lot on"bottom hand torque"-keeping the hands in and pulling back with the bottom hand throught contact.I do work them off the tee with the ball not very far in front of the plate so they learn to keep the ball fair and get a little more reaction time.I use the heavy bag for many so they learn to get max batspeed early.They learn to keep the head back well.It helps to use some bat modification so the kid can be aware of the sweetspot.When the ball is more inside,they have to pull more with the bottom hand and often shade the head back more.Sometimes we work on direction of followthrough as a cue.The position of the "v" at extension will vary with the different locations.

So this starts to get at varying the torso turn.They start with a basic swing for middle-in pitch to hit it hard up the middle and then learn to adjust for the more inside location,keeping it fair which speeds up torso turn quite a bit.Focussing on the upper body/handpath often gets the desired action out of the lower body.Sometimes not and you have to get more specific about leg action,etc.

Now for the more outside location,I try to have them #1 get the sweetspot on the ball and #2keep the same swing sequence-turn(inward)-step(stride/separation)-turn(hips/torso)-fire(the bathead).I stress the tempo needs to start slow and speed up as the swing progresses and they need to wait on the outside pitch,not get jumpy and swing too soon.I don't have them think about hitting/contacting the ball further back.I do have them think about the ball getting closer before they swing,emphasizing with good mechanics they have time.The hands should fire the bathead almost to extension by contact and the head should not shade back.The "V" at extension will be more between first and second,not second and third as for the inside stuff.I like to see them hit the outside pitch hard to center or the alley,not opposite field.

So these are some of the cues that I use to nudge someone and establish guardrails.The cues change and some kids benefit from less rather than more.


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