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The Void is over Spring Training is finally started - Issue #58
February 25, 2009

Spring Training has arrived

As Spring Training has started for the Major Leaguers the Void is officially over. The Void is from one of my favorite baseball quotes "There are two seasons in sports, Baseball and the Void".

While I'm busy getting my free gift to my subscribers ready (there is nothing out there like this to help you be a great hitter), it's hard to come up with new content as well, so I've borrowed other's thoughts on hitting for you to ponder and I've interspersed my thoughts throughout.


Bat Speed

Bat Speed: What It Is And How To Get It

The term “bat speed” is all the rage these days among players, coaches, instructors and parents alike. Everyone is searching for the “Holy Grail” of hitting…bat speed.

But wait, not so fast. Bat Speed is important, but a VERY generalized term. Let’s break it down so you understand it and how to develop it…

When most people say “bat speed” they picture Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield or any MLB with world-class bat speed putting a hurting on a baseball. This is obviously the goal every hitter has. But please understand this is the end result, the culmination of hard work, being a student of the game and yes, of course, great genetics.

It’s not like you can take your average high school player, add 5-10 mph on their bat speed and all of a sudden they are Manny Ramirez. It simply doesn’t work that way. While you can argue that player would be better, he still would have average mechanics and vision.

Now, I do believe if you increase your bat speed you have a better shot at raking than if you didn’t. It certainly gives you a leg up on the competition and allows for a certain amount of error, which as you know will help any hitter.

What I’m worried is bat speed is becoming like the radar gun for pitchers. Now all someone cares about is how fast their bat speed is on the bat radar machine. One question…Who cares?

Swinging as hard as you can in a cage without having to make contact with a ball has absolutely zero carryover to hitting. Sure your “bat speed” may have increase, but your mechanics are now down the toilet. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. And despite my warning the players, coaches, instructors and parents are left shaking their heads why Johnny is barely hitting his weight.

Hard to believe, yes. But, sadly, also true.

I’ll make this statement and some self-proclaimed “expert” will argue with me but “You don’t need world-class bat speed to be a world-class hitter”. It certainly helps, but is not mandatory…

However…”You do need world-class Game Bat Speed to be a world-class hitter”

That’s right “game bat-speed”. Or how quick you can dial it up when you actually have to see the ball, locate it, decide what pitch it is, figure out if it’s in your zone and then pull the trigger. All in the matter of milliseconds. Some call it natural hitting ability. Others call it instinct. It’s possible to have average, or even below average “bat speed” and have outstanding game bat speed.

And it’s VERY common to see players with great bat speed during practice and batting practice and then be terrible hitters. These players are called 5 o’clock hitters because they mash at 5 o’clock (the time pro teams take BP before a 7pm game) and stink when game time rolls around.

You don’t want to be a 5 o’clock hitter do you? Nobody likes that guy…

Here are 3 things you need to work on if you want to develop game bat speed, which is the REAL money-maker in hitting…

1. Baseball-Specific Vision

I don’t care how fast your bat is, if you don’t pick up the ball early you can forget about becoming a great hitter. Sadly, 99.9% of coaches and instructors get this ALL wrong. You can’t get it by sitting in front of a computer screen, hitting different colored baseballs (did I miss something? Does a baseball change color?) or any of the gimmicks sold today.

*** Note from Coach Andy: I agree with assertion that Baseball Specific Vision is of utmost important. However, I'm not sure you can throw some of the other vision training out the window without solid proof that it doesn't work. Manny Ramirez that he holds out as a terrific hitter uses colored balls in some of his drills. ***

2. Proper Dynamic Flexibility and Range of Motion

This one is so overlooked its ridiculous. Coaches and instructors spend hours upon hours trying to force hitters to do things their body simply cannot do. You can teach rotational hitting till you’re blue in the face, if the hitter who you’re teaching does not have proper dynamic range of motion throughout their hips, shoulder and lower body you can all but forget they will EVER pick up the mechanics. It’s IMPOSSIBLE! Spend time developing dynamic flexibility and range of motion before you begin to engrain poor mechanics that will be impossible to break.

3. Ability to Generate Force

Here’s another one that the greats do naturally and the coaches and instructors miss. If you can’t generate force from WITHIN you won’t be able to put a hurtin’ on the ball. You’ll simply be a “soft contact” hitter, unable to generate game bat speed and put the ball into play with authority.

Learn correct strength and conditioning drills to do with your players in order to develop this. Not machines, not stupid “balance” exercises or bodybuilding workouts. Specific methods that will develop world-class force generation.

Get these three aspects in order and you’re well on your way to explosive game bat speed and huge triple-crown category numbers!

*** Note from Coach Andy: Again this author is really down on non-game exercises, but doesn't back it up with factual evidence that it is detrimental or non-supportive, but overall his thoughts are stated differently enough from my normal rants to get you thinking about how to apply some of this to help you be a better hitter. ***

Help yourself at Tryouts

For those of you that are trying out for given teams this article's points are good ones. (I feel badly that I copied these down from a forum some time back and neglected to write down the source, if someone knows who wrote it I would be glad to give them credit in the next newsletter):

There are several things you can do at tryouts and practice sessions that will help increase your chances of getting noticed an provide a better opportunity to make the Team.

1. Dress the part - wear a complete uniform with your name and number.
2. Clean and neat - looks are important as are first impressions. Look like a baseball player!
3. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle! Loafing and lack of enthusiasm is a sure way to get cut!
4. Offer a firm hand shake to coaches and instructors - no one likes a limp, fishy hand shake!
5. Alway look coaches directly in the eye.
6. Maintain a good, positive attitude.
7. Do not goof around.
8. Always wear your hat with the bill in front! A baseball cap was not designed to shade the back of your neck!
9. Get to sessions early.
10. Pre-tryout preparation is extremely important.
11. Fitness is important so get in shape before tryouts. Coaches look for speed, quickness and arm strength.
12. Be ready to run 60 yard dashes.
13. Show leadership - coaches notice how you carry yourself, your body language, baseball instinct, whether or not you hustle.
14. Work some drills on your own before formal session start - get a partner and work on short hops, back hand, pepper, Tee work. Your activity will attract coaches attention.
15. Control what you can control - all of the above!

For another article on doing your best at tryouts see this article from Junior Baseball Magazine or for girls softball (more for the serious travel ball players there's this article.

Have A Plan When Hitting

For those still not ready for spring training because for you it's still the off season, here's another article from this same unnamed author as above:

Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan!

An Off-Season Training Plan for Hitters

1st Things First! Commit to having a plan. With a plan, you have direction. With direction, you get more done in less time and are more apt to get results... which makes you want to stick with your plan... and repeat it even more... which gets you better quicker. Get it?

But... what do I plan?

My summary is to always work on your weak points, but let's mix the fun stuff in as well. It's off season, you know it's important, but this is supposed to be fun... right!

Here's a great idea for this time of year: Try to hit at a home training station with a batting tee or (for more fun) with a soft toss machine, and get into a batting cage as often as you can during the cold and off-season months.

Better yet: use your plan to decide what to practice & how to accomplish your goals (again, one of your goals is to accomplish more with less time).

It is a game that we are playing-- it's the game you chose,-- so why not make up your own practice rules!

Here's some examples & ideas: Divide everything you do into 10 swings with a purpose.

Round 1 - Begin with hitting to the opposite field. Count your successes... out of 10 (this might simulate driving in runners on base).

Round 2 - Take 10 swings up the middle - just for focusing on a target. Count your successes... out of 10.

Rounds 3, 4 etc. examples Make it up... play games best out of 10. Some examples:* Hitting a long fly ball to score a runner from 3B (how many runs can you drive in... out of 10); # of hard hit balls... out of 10; # of ground balls... out of 10; # of sac bunts... out of 10; # of clean base hits... all out of 10 swings. Lather, Rinse & Repeat. And, of course, you can have a 2nd round on any of these ideas to see how you improve. Keep your own "scorecard" on a clipboard complete with dates and your results. Add a buddy and compete against each other... make it 9 innings (9 specific "tests" or a World Series best of 7) where the winner of each test chooses the next test.

I'm just making up these examples as I am writing, you do the same. Just note that the most important points are:
* Get a plan (one that is fun so you will want to do it regularly).
* Use these games as practice tools.
* Compete with yourself or other players (or even Dad).
* Make up your own games... and compete, whether it's against yourself, your Dad or a teammate. Just do it right or not at all.

Remember to plan your work and work your plan. In other words, stay focused! It's true in school, business, baseball and life in general.

Some Finishing Notes

I hoped you enjoyed this look from a different set of eyes.

Don't forget to open the next couple of e-mails from me so you don't miss out on the exiting things I have for you to become a better hitter this season. I go into the editing booth this week on one of my projects.

So please forward this to others who will want to hit better as well. Thanks for doing this and thanks for reading.

Also, so you don't miss out on any announcements, follow me on Twitter

Again, if you have any questions or comments you can write to me via e-mail.

To see other hitting tips in past newsletters, go to the past issues of my hitting newsletter page.

Welcome to you who are new to my hitting e-zine.

Thanks for reading and talk to you next time.

Coach Andy

6801 Dove St. Ventura, CA 93003


Coach Andy Collins has been helping players achieve their goals in softball and baseball for over 30 years. He's an advisor to national teams and can help you be a better hitter. He offers free information on his website and through free e-mail hitting lessons and has just introduced a new hitting video discussing and demonstrating how to hit great with either the rotational or linear hitting methods.

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