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Re: Re: Re: Cues

Posted by: Mickey (drmick3@cox.net) on Fri Apr 15 19:07:07 2011

> Hi Mickey,
> thanks a lot for the detail. that's heady stuff! I think you hit on many important points. First the load (inward turn) I agree is crucial. would you think that hands to the back shoulder, or simply turning the shoulders in would be more effective? the reason I ask is that its possible to just move your hands to the shoulder by themselves without really turning the shoulders inward. in fact that's what a lot of the hitters on my son's team do when we say "hide the hands". they don't load as one unit with the shoulders/hands.
> also, id like to touch on the position of the back elbow. it seems like it feels more natural for the young hitter to keep their elbow down, but I think from all I've learned that starting initiation with a raised elbow then lowering it into the slot will help the head of the bat accelerate sooner as it travels backward first before it sweeps into the plane of the pitch?
> it is hard to teach this stuff to kids, because like the reason for my post, I haven't seen a lot of effective cues that kids can understand.
> love the discussion and finding ways to improve kids mechanics!
> Steve

Hi Steve,

The cue to turn the shoulders back might work better for some kids.

I generally start out with hands back toward the right shoulder to include both high right elbow kids AND kids that just let their right elbow assume a natural position with the bat held less vertically in their batting stance.

If that doesn't work I include "back and toward the dugout." If it goes too far, I add "back and a 'little' toward the dugout." For kids that have more muscle and are not as supple, you don't have to worry about them rotating back too far since they store up a lot of power in a shorter coil and their range of motion is not as great anyway.

"Right hand back" or "right hand back slightly toward the dugout" fits better with high right elbow kids.

I agree with everything you said about younger kids and a high right elbow, say, in Pony, rare in Minors. maybe in Majors Little League. Younger kids don't start their lower body first and/or get the hands reaching/rotating further back even after the lower body first starts. They try to hand loop the bat from a vertical position to a more perpendicular relationship to the ground. That loop makes then late and causes all kinds of weak pop ups, fouled and weak grounders to the right.

I can think of three (3) other things to be aware of and check out if there are no results from the above cues, all have to do with what anatomically restricts inward coiling:

1) a too-wide stance binds the legs and makes it very hard for the muscles in the left leg to relax and the ones in the right leg to coil--ditto hips. The same thing happens if you over stride into a too-wide position, plus the head drops.

2) a left heel that stays on the ground, particularly when coupled with a wide (even not too wide) stance and

3) right-eye dominance forces the head to stay straighter to clearly watch the pitched ball, which restricts shoulder turn more than a left-eyed batter who can allow his head to turn more inward and still see the ball clearly.

So, how to eliminate restrictions by not making the cure worse than the disease?

Its true that a little restriction creates more coiled energy, but its harder to rotate back against those restrictions, AND its harder to hold back whatever inward turning you've accomplished until you see if its a pitch you want to hit! I see kids coil back too soon so as not to be caught behind the ball, and let go of the coil before the ball gets there, having to wave at the ball with hands and arms as if they hadn't even coiled in the first place.

Check out the Manny Ramirez clip below where he lifts his left leg off the ground and stands on his right leg in a much more relaxed position to wait for the ball before getting into a similar position as Pujlos.

Ithink Ramirez is a better overall model for younger kids than Pujlos since its a simpler, easier-to-coil style. As long as you don't overstride into essentially a too-wide stance, it also gets at least some separation (torque) going between upper and lower body more easily, and the bat is initially held in a more relaxed position, WITH A GOOD BIT OF INWARD SHOULDER ROTATION OCCURRING HALF WAY INTO HIS STRIDE.

He does incorporate a high right elbow for a split second as his greater inward shoulder rotation occurs, but you could just as easily keep the right elbow in a lower, more natural position for kids. Also, You can always leave the left foot closer to the ground, but this clip exaggerates what you see much less clearly in a Pujlos clip.


There's a drill I like that simplifies all this that incorporates rhythm and feel in the batter's movements while in the batter's box. It focuses on reminding the batter of a "little" like what its going to FEEL like coiling and uncoiling, before the ball comes at him.

1) Get into a batting stance with the bat at a 45, or almost 90 degree angle, to the ground. {its simpler before one has learned how to direct the bat with the whole body, not just the hands and arms.]

2) To stay relaxed before the pitch, use the WHOLE BODY to rotate forward to a point where the bat is in its imagined contact position, "sort of" perpendicular to the ground and perpendicular to the ball's upcoming path, just like you were imagining the bat hitting the ball. Rotate toward the pitcher in a relaxed and rhythmical manner, such that some small percentage of weight rocks onto the left foot. Let the resistance of the left leg, and the bat's loss of momentum toward the pitcher, themselves, start the bat/body falling backward (recoiling) from the pitcher. Use the weight of the bat and the body's TURNING back toward the start point TO GET A RUNNING START, swinging the bat back "sort of" PAST WHERE IT STARTED!

This preparation to hit supplies the following: 1) rhythm and the feel of coil and recoil 2) the feel of ROTATIING and WEIGHT SHIFT occurring SIMULTANEOUSLY 3) feeling how to swing the bat's weight and feel it change direction and accelerate, 4) GOING PAST where the bat started gives a felt point of reference IN THE CONTEXT OF MOVEMENT BEING REVERSED FROM ONE DIRECTION TO ANOTHER

3) To work this into actually hitting the ball, two important things have to happen:

a) the batter has to interrupt this foward/backward movement at some point so he doesn't get caught and not be ready to hit the pitched ball.
b) the hands have to rotate a "little" further back AS the lower body launches into the swing.

I like the hands, as a unit, AND, the legs simultaneously rotating a little FARTHER BACK (say, 3-4 inches)) and then recoiling back toward the pitcher an equal amount, repeating this miniature rocking/rotating back and forth, keeping the muscles loose and responsive, until right before the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. Its really reminding him where that FARTHER BACK is by feel.

Just before the pitcher releases the ball, the hands get ready to rotate back further and the left heel/foot and both hips (equally) get ready to move first I think of getting the bat back to hit it further (or make sure I'm not behind a fast ball) and getting ready to land that left heel, staying behind a pole running straight up from a midpoint between my two feet. Left foot starts back and I'M OFF!

Now, to anticipate the critics.

First, most younger kids haven't a clue about how to use their lower body to direct the bat to the ball. Even as they get better at just making contact with the ball, they don't have a clue about how to use the lower body to initiate the swing back to the ball. Consequently, they don't have a prayer to get a high-right-elbow, vertical bat, or one pointed at the pitcher, down and into a flatter plane except to use their arms, slowly, and weakly.

Yes there is something lost in acceleration and higher pitches may be more problematic with a lower right elbow, but they have a better chance of hitting hard line drives without the high right elbow. They also have a better chance of getting the lower body's initiation of the swing to tuck the right elbow in more directly and easily. Its also easier and simpler for them to visualize what they're doing and where the bat is during the swing. Ingrain that first, and all you have to do is raise the right hand and elbow a little higher, and the ingrained lower body will easily tuck that high right elbow in. Starting higher will also help them with high pitches later.

Second, there's the truism that MLB all stand at the plate and move around differently, but once they get into hitting position they all look pretty much alike. Its also true that in many golfer's freshing routines they practice what they want to make sure they do during their swing. So, they get into the rhythm of what they're going to do before they swing, Pujlos sways back and forth toward one foot, then the other, as he brings the bat down in an arc to the plate with a bat parallel to the ground.

So, if you want to make sure you coil correctly with your hips and shoulders, including some weight shift, you ought to incorporate that into what you do in the batter's box to keep your muscles from stiffening up, rather coiling and uncoiling in miniature so that full loading only takes place a split second before you hit, coiling to uncoil WITHOUT STIFFENING.'

As always, we know all this, but the key is to make your cues simple, such that the cue takes care of multiple problems all at once. Even so, it gets to be a trial and error process to customize the cues to a particular person and problem. Doing so usually has a price to be paid.

The above suggestions, I hope, are practical and workable, but stay true to rotational hitting principles--albeit, sacrificing a little from purest principles to recognize the limitations of individuals who, for now, need to take two steps forward, while paying the price of taking one step back.

As always, I welcome comments and criticisms, since I love learning about hitting.



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