Andy Collins in the News

The latest news story about Andy Collins was in the Ventura County Star newpaper August 8, 2006.

It tells about my hitting philosophy and how I dealt with the controvery among coaches about different hitting styles. It also has a picture of me and my son.

Follow this link to the article from the Star or see further down this page for the text of this article.

An earlier story from March 20, 2001 appeared telling of my trip to Brazil teaching the national teams hitting and softball skills.

Follow this link to the story about Andy Collins teaching softball hitting to the national teams of Brazil for the text of this article.

Two swings for price of one
By Luis Vicuna, Correspondent
August 8, 2006

In baseball and softball, no one will question your hitting style when you are smashing the ball, but the moment a hitting slump sets in, coaches, teammates and family generously give advice to improve your swing.

Longtime Ventura County hitting coach Andy Collins encourages players to pick a certain style of hitting that works best for them and to stick with it.

"Most people can't duplicate teaching something. They know what a good swing looks like, and they just tell you to do that again, but if you're not swinging well, they can't get you to," said Collins.

In his new instructional DVD, "Linear vs. Rotational: Which Swing Will Help You Hit Best," Andy Collins explains two types of hitting, which he refers to as linear and rotational. For coaches, these different styles have been the center of debate over which swing works better.

"What I did was break it down into seven check points, so that I can show other coaches what to look for. That's how I designed my hitting theory, so that it is easy to duplicate," said Collins.

Collins found that many coaches would only teach one swing and neglect to show an alternate swing. To shed some light on the controversy surrounding what style works best, Collins created the DVD.

"Instead of having to cram it down your throat and then you find out your wrong, how about someone gives you all the evidence from both sides," said Andy Collins. "You're going to have to live with the decision anyways."

The linear and rotational swing have subtle similarities, but their mechanics are different.

In the linear swing, the front elbow leads forward toward the inside flight of the ball as the hands chop directly at the ball.

This style produces more contact, sharp grounders and line drives. Traditionally, the swing is used more in fastpitch softball because it enables the batter to slap the ball through the infield using the wrists and hands.

Collins explains that in addition to softball, this swing became more prevalent in baseball when Astroturf was introduced, which enabled ground balls to travel quickly through the infield.

"If you think about a girls' softball field, there is the dirt infield and the corners move way in, so what you want to do is punch the ball past an infielder," said Collins.

According to Andy Collins, the rotational swing produces more power and gets the ball up in the air. It is an upward swing where the back shoulder is dropped and the bat is below the hands as it comes through the strike zone.

As opposed to the linear swing, where you push off of the back leg, the rotational swing requires pulling from the front hip. There is also a greater focus on twisting the hips, which in Collins' six steps to the rotational swing it is called the "Elvis Pelvis." It is typically seen more throughout baseball, but successful softball teams such as UCLA and Arizona are teaching the rotational style.

A factor to consider while deciding a hitting style is that some players aren't meant to be power hitters.

According to Collins, of the more than 30 players that he provides with hitting lessons, the rotational style is the most popular.

Among the players Andy Collins has coached in his 30 years, their goals have ranged from making the major leagues, achieving college scholarships or just making their Little League all-star team.

"I've got other players that just want to get their first hit," said Collins. "There is almost as much excitement for me when I get that call saying they just got their first hit as much as the kid that calls and said they've been accepted to a Division I college and they're going to start as a freshman."

The DVD and information on hitting lessons are available on Collins' Web site: http://TheInternetHittingCoach.com.

"I think that any kid who makes a goal can learn a lesson in life on what it takes to be successful," said Collins. "Get some proper instruction, focus on what you want to receive, take some steps to practice toward those goals and repeat them until you get better."

Foreign aid

By Keith Kropp
Ventura County Star writer
Tuesday March 20, 2001

With bat in hand, an attentive group of players and coaches watching and his wife Mariza standing nearby serving as translator, Andy Collins demonstrates a batting fundamental.

"Pule dentro da caixe," come the words in Portuguese. The English translation -- "Jump in the (batter's) box."

Collins shifts to another technique.

"Esmagar o inseto," comes Mariza's translation. "Squish the bug."

The five-hour session continues, with Andy Collins covering other batting essentials as well as throwing and fielding.

Normally, Collins does not need a translator while coaching. But when conducting a clinic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, -- like in this instance -- he does.

Andy Collins, a 1969 Buena High graduate who has coached softball in Ventura County for 30 years, recently conducted a two-day softball clinic for 44 players and 16 coaches of Brazil's national and junior national teams.

"It was interesting because of the language barrier," Collins recently recalled of the January trip. "But I felt good because I thought I was helping them."

"Jump in the box" and "Squish the bug" were only two of several batting concepts he taught during the clinic.

"What I did is break down the hitting cycle into seven easy steps -- for the coaches in the first day and the players the next day," Andy Collins explained. " 'Jump in the box' is the idea that a player (to hit effectively) needs to start from a stance of power. The quickest way to communicate this is to see how he or she lands from a jump."

"Squish the bug," which focuses on getting players to use the big muscles in the hips and torso, is another of those seven steps.

"This reminds hitters to twist their back foot over the ball of the foot, as if putting out a cigarette or if there were a bug under there and wanted to squish it," Collins explained."

Overall, Collins takes away good memories from the experience. "They liked it," Collins said. "They were excited to have someone from America come and teach them."

In Brazil, softball gets little attention. It is a country known far more for soccer than softball. Countries like the United States, Japan and China are far more advanced. That point was driven home during Collins' return trip. "I saw more softball fields landing into LAX than I did while in Brazil."

At first, Collins thought of the Brazil trip as a vacation with Mariza. In the months that followed, it became more than a vacation.

Last spring, Collins gained added confidence in his coaching skills after meeting Ralph Weekly, hitting coach for the U.S. Olympic team.

Andy Collins was hopeful some of his ideas on hitting would be helpful to the Olympic players in Sydney. With Team USA well into its training regimen, the head coach decided to forgo any new theories.

But Weekly did review Collins' ideas and liked what he saw. "I can tell you are a real student of hitting," Weekly informed Collins in one of their frequent e-mail exchanges last year.

It was Weekly who directed Collins to call Don Porter, International Softball Federation president. Porter's office was able to help Collins contact Jorge Otsuka of the CBSS(Conferacao Brasileira de Beisebol e Softbal). From there, Collins was able to work out the specifics.

Coaching softball internationally was something new to Andy Collins. Coaching in and around Ventura County certainly is not.

The 49-year-old Ventura resident began coaching in 1970 and has developed a wide range of experience from coaching men's teams in Oxnard, junior varsity girls' teams to assisting in clinics organized by former Ventura resident and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kim Maher.

Today, sandwiched between his full-time job as a information technology manager in Port Hueneme, Andy Collins coaches individual players in Ventura County. Two of them are Rio Mesa High catcher Crystal Lindsey and Hueneme catcher Jessica Gonzales.

Lindsey, a senior who has received more than 60 letters of interest from college coaches throughout the country, credits Collins with a lot of her improvement since he began working with her three years ago.

"I have a lot more confidence," Lindsey said. "He taught me how to throw. Before I began working with Andy Collins, I could barely throw the ball to second base. Now I can make the throw in under two seconds."

Coaching softball is an activity which gives Collins great enjoyment. But the CalState Northridge graduate also takes it seriously.

He has been a member of the National Fastpitch Coaching Association the last two years. Some of his ideas on hitting are now being used by Weekly and the U.S. national team.

Andy Collins' ability to come up with ideas to help players is no surprise to Sharon Coggins, a former Buena softball coach.

"He's good at spotting what a player is doing wrong," Coggins said.

As for coaching internationally, Collins sees that experience as unfinished. He is planning to return to Brazil at some point, but could also meet again with the junior national team when it comes to Florida in November to participate in the Junior World Championships.

On his brochure, Andy Collins describes himself as "a guy who loves to coach softball." So much so he will travel more than 10,000 miles to do it.

--Keith Kropp's e-mail address is kkropp@insidevc.com.


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