Take the Slack Out of the Front Arm in order to hit harder Eleven 100mph…
Why Coaches Need to Shut Up!
Coaches: Stop Talking So Much and Start Training Your Athletes -
It’s amazing how much technical information and advanced technology is out there in order to help coaches train our players become better hitters and better baseball players. When you think about it, the technology that exists along with the information that is available should also then be making our athletes the greatest hitters and baseball players of all time.
Why isn’t all this great information producing the best results we have ever seen?
Why is professional baseball filled with non U.S. Born players most of which who don't have access to private instructors, strength trainers, video analysis, travel teams, showcases, ect.....?
In December 2014 I visited the Texas Baseball Ranch for Coach Ron Wolforth’s pitching event for coaches. This was my at least my 5th visit to the Ranch and the 3rd time I attended this event.
One of the presenters (Frans Bosch) really opened my eyes to something I had already been thinking. In fact Frans wanted to me to jump up and spike a football and yell “touchdown”.
Frans Bosch is the worlds top motor learning specialist form the Netherlands who as far as I know has very little knowledge of baseball but a tremendous amount of knowledge in motor learning and training athletes. At one point Frans simply said baseball coaches and coaches in general talk too much. In fact he said coaches need to “shut up”.
His point is players don’t learn through talking them through how to hit or how to throw or how to pitch. They learn from doing it. His process for training elite athletes was amazing, and also a realization to see that Fastball USA is not far off when it comes to training. His concepts will continue to drive our academy and results into 2015 and beyond. His process is close to the exact opposite on how most baseball lessons are run and how most baseball practices are run.
This brought me back to our main training principle at Fastball USA which is intent. The intent of your practice is the single most important thing when it comes to developing a baseball player.
Your intent is what impacts your mechanics, not the other way around. The problem is in my opinion is we have access to so much information that we begin to over inform our athletes and make the process much more complicated. Coaches become too concerned about showing off their knowledge and then their personal ego get's in the way when dealing with athletes. The athlete couldn't possibly be right........the coach or expert has to know everything which is why the ego get's in the way.
The result is we have a nation filled with hitters who are trying to look pretty. They are searching for technique that will be the magic pill when in fact the magic is in the intent, not the technique. Players in countries outside the USA are kicking our butt in terms of numbers in professional baseball.
The Problem Begins With Words..................Are you throwing up on your players?
The problem with communication and coaching begins with words. The assumption is the coach has all the right information. The assumption is the coach is going to communicate the information properly. The assumption is the student is going to received the information the way it was supposed to be received. The assumption is all students will receive the information and process it the same way.
There is a lot of things that can go wrong in the communication process and it all begins with the coach having the right information, and being 100% correct.
Key Article that shows the difference on how Bryce Harper grew up vs. most kids today receiving baseball lessons.
In a Washington Post article two years ago their was an article referred to as “The Swing Of Beauty”. It was an article discussing Bryce Harpers swing and how he attained the swing.
While I believe there are several things we can learn from this article a few of them jumped out and me. This was another spike the football moment for me because this reinforces what we do at Fastball USA in Chicago.
“I don’t know how I got my swing or what I did. I know I worked every single day. I know I did as much as I could with my dad. But I never really looked at anything mechanical. There was nothing really like, ‘Oh, put your hands here.’ It was, ‘Where are you comfortable? You’re comfortable here, hit from there.’ ”
This part of the article reinforces that you can’t get too detailed with swing mechanics and as a coach you can’t throw up on your players by showing off all of your knowledge. Mechanics need to be kept simple.
Bryce Harper could not fathom how many soft tosses or batting practice pitches his father threw him. “Millions,” he said. “Absolutely millions.” When he played football in high school, he would sneak into the batting cage between the end of class and practice, taking swings while wearing fully padded football pants.
This speaks to how important swinging the bat really is and how many players almost have a short cut mindset. The shortcut is learning everything about technique will save them work. This is not true. If you want to become great at hitting then you must hit.
Ron coached his son with small reminders and large bullet points. He would tell Bryce to focus on hitting the ball to the opposite field or offer advice like, “Hands inside!” But he never bogged down Bryce with detailed instruction.
“I’ve always been a big believer in, there’s times when you got to let people go and let them figure it out themselves,” Ron Harper said.
This part reinforces 2 things:
1. Simplification of Mechanics
2. Great players are great at making adjustments. They figure it out.
The problem is as coaches and parents we try to save them by having all the answers. The reality is we don’t have all the answers. The player has become great at self coaching and self adjusting.
He did not focus on mechanics to achieve his goal; the proper mechanics arose from his mission, like learning a language through immersion.
This is the part that most people are missing. The mission drives your mechanics, not the other way around.
If you want to hit harder and farther it begins with the mission and commitment to hitting the ball harder and farther. The goal, the intent, the mission needs to be crystal clear. Your swing should resemble your goal.
One of the reasons why hitters don’t achieve their ability to hit the ball as hard as they can is they have a different goal. The goal is looking pretty. The goal is looking good. They believe they will achieve greatness from mastering what they look like therefore they get bogged down with mechanics.
I drill into all of my students to ask 2 things after every single swing.
Question # 1 Ask yourself …….. Did I hit the ball hard?
Nothing should be more important than hitting the ball hard. If you can’t answer yes then don’t even bother to ask yourself the second question. You need to try again focusing on hitting the ball hard.
Question #2 Did the ball have good flight?
If you hit the ball hard then ask yourself if the ball had good flight. You mission should be to hit every ball as hard as possible with the best ball flight possible.
What does this mission have to do with mechanics?
Simple. Picture someone with the goal of looking pretty or the goal of just making contact.
Now picture someone with the goal of hitting the ball 500 feet? In your mind do these two swings look different or the same? Is the technique different or the same?
Hitting The Ball Hard with great distance begins with the simple goal. The mechanics will strongly resemble your goal.
At the Fastball USA Academy we have seen 11 players reach 100mph ball exit speed and over 60 surpass the 90mph mark. Currently we have a 6th grader (11 years old) hitting the ball 84mph. Yes the swing plays well in a game.
How do we get these results? It begins with the mission. Without the mission it is very difficult to hit the ball harder and farther than everyone else.
Some of the best hitters I have ever worked with arrived with having very little hitting instruction. That’s a fact. Why is that? Does this mean coaches don’t know their stuff? In some cases they don’t, but in many cases they do know their stuff.
Why do players struggle under over instruction? Players don’t learn through words, they learn from doing it. So take my advice, talk less, and do more. Allow hitters to practice with a clear mission and give them an opportunity to adapt and adjust therefore becoming their own best hitting coach.