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Warning to Good Hitters!!!


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

When I am asked why I help kids, my answer is very simple... I will not let any player be as ill prepared for achieving his dreams as I was. I was a very talented athlete coming from the NorthEast which is by no means a hot bed for producing professional baseball players. I hit more home runs than any other kid in my state, hit well over 0.500, and struck out only once my Senior year of High School. My skills were good enough to get drafted in a respectable round with an even more respectable signing bonus, yet, I had no chance from the beginning of making it to the Big Leagues. After grinding it out in the Minors for 5 years, I had accumulated a batting average of 0.242, hit only a few HR’s, and my strike out to walk ratio was around a 3.0.

Now I had some injuries... I had some family emergencies which made playing baseball very difficult... but none of them are the reason why I couldn’t succeed at the professional level. You see my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t hit at the professional level, I had stretches throughout every season I played where I was the 3 hole hitter and was putting up numbers better than anyone else in the league. The problem was I also had stretches where I struggled miserably... And even worse, I had no idea how to snap out of it. I had never failed before, and though I didn’t have a problem with handling failure, I did have a problem with never being taught anything that would help me when I wasn’t hitting. Since I was around 12 years old I was never not hitting well. I had never struggled, so I never had anyone giving me their two cents as to why I wasn’t hitting, and let me make this very clear, the minute you start struggling you will have no shortage of coaches, teammates, fans, or even your parents who will be chiming in and telling you everything that you are doing wrong. The worst part about this is that the vast majority of these people have no friggen clue how to help you and they are making the problem infinitely worse.

You see every time you tell a hitter there is something wrong with their swing, it stays with them... Depending on how much clout the person giving the information has divided by how well the hitter is doing at that particular moment will determine how long that blow will last with the hitter. If some drunk fan spouts off to a player going 4 for 4 it won’t even last long enough for the hitter to process what he just heard, but for a hitter who may be 1 for 5 hearing Ken Griffey Jr. saying there is something wrong with their swing on TV, you better believe in the back of his head, that hitter will start to question if his swing really is in trouble.

The only thing a hitter has to combat this assault on their confidence is knowledge. A hitter who understands all the little nuances about the mechanics of hitting and even more importantly why they do them will be able to nullify what he feels is garbage information no matter who the source is.

This is why I try to arm my hitters with as much knowledge as possible. Almost every time a hitter is struggling it is something very simple and not a huge mechanical issue. I have seen hitters with mechanical problems succeed in the big leagues, and I have seen perfect swings fail in College. As hitting instructors we are cursed with the need to try to correct any “non-perfect” swings, and it isn’t until that hitter starts to struggle that we decide to tell them about it. The truth of the matter is making mechanical changes to your swing takes a very long time and they aren’t going to take in only one or two sessions of hitting. More than likely you are simply
off balance, not focusing on seeing the ball clearly, are not letting the ball travel, or simply pressing. These are issues that can be corrected even within At Bats simply by understanding why they are so important and what are their consequences.

I am very good at getting players to hit. I may have had struggles getting myself to hit, but without those struggles I would not be here teaching you the lessons I have learned. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about hitting, so it took me many trial and tribulations in order to sort through all the garbage information that was being bombarded down on me before I learned what was important and what wasn’t. So if you dream of competing at higher levels, unless you can guarantee your athleticism is always going to win out, do yourself a favor and become a student of hitting and learn as much as you can.




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Hitting is about TIME. You have more than you might think!


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In baseball, without question the number that is best identified with greatness is 90. Pitchers wish to be able to throw it, hitters fear it, and parents associate it with their kid being able to buy them a new house. Because of this, I am constantly correcting parents who try to mimic this magical number in an attempt to get their 5 year old ready to hit big league pitching. To often they shorten the distance they throw batting practice from while increasing the velocity that they throw the ball to them. This may seem like a reasonable solution, and as great as it would be for a hitter to get “used to seeing” high velocity, this practice actually does more harm than good.

The reason it is bad is strictly because what coaches and parents are forgetting about is that a pitcher who is throwing 90 mph is throwing that ball from 60 feet 6 inches. At that distance it takes the ball ~0.5 seconds to get from the pitchers hand to the hitting zone (see chart below). It is also important to understand that this amount of time is
crucial for a hitter to be able to complete all the steps of a good swing. Cutting down on that time results in hitters cutting corners on their swing in order to just make contact instead of trying to drive the ball.

Without turning this into a lesson in aerodynamics, a 90 mph fastball loses ~12 mph from the pitchers hand to the plate and crosses the hitting zone at ~78 mph. It is the 78 mph which makes hitting hard throwers more difficult than softer throwers, because the faster the pitcher throws the ball from the mound, the faster the ball is going in the 1.5 ft over the plate
known as the hitting zone. Simply put the faster that the ball is traveling when the ball gets to the hitter, the less margin for error the hitter has to hit the ball, or more appropriately, the less time the ball takes to blow by them.

Unfortunately, because I am convinced that when it comes to baseball the first thought that comes to us to try to solve a problem almost always completely wrong, we conclude that we
must try to simulate this speed through the hitting zone by throwing closer and harder. The only thing this does however is drastically reduce the amount of time that a hitter has to recognize and judge the pitch’s speed and location which is usually good information to have before they start their swing. It is far more important for hitters to have the time needed to take a good swing than for them to practice having less margin for error to hit.

Take a look at the chart below to give yourself an understanding of how throwing batting practice at close distances can drastically reduce the time your hitter has to read the pitch. It may come as a surprise, but a 90 mph ball takes about the same amount of time to get to the hitting zone as a ball does during soft toss from 15 ft (which is why soft toss is a great tool for hitters to develop timing and pitch recognition).

From general observation I have noticed that most parents throw batting practice to their kids from about 35 feet away and the good news for their son is that they can only throw about 50 mph so they aren’t doing too much damage (giving their hitter 0.5 seconds to recognize and start their swing, and 0.022 seconds to make contact - almost twice as much time as the 0.013 seconds it takes for a MLB player to hit a 90 mph fastball), but if they were to move just 10 feet closer, they would cut that recognition time down to 0.35 seconds which means it will get on them faster than a ball thrown at 110 mph. The good news is that if they haven’t thrown down their bat in frustration, you will still be giving them the same generous amount of time to actually hit the ball of 0.022 seconds... but wait... isn’t that what you were trying shorten.


batting-practice-speed

After taking a look at this, try to understand that there is no such thing as simulating what it is to like to face a pitcher who throws 90 mph. The only thing that does simulates what it is like to hit off a pitcher throwing 90 mph IS a pitcher throwing 90 mph. It is always best to make sure that at your practice, your hitters are taking good swings. In order to do that, you have to make sure that you as a coach or parent are giving them enough time to do so.

JoshuaPerich Bio




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See the ball As Clearly As Possible.


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

Your eyes work like a camera... If the camera (your head) is moving, it takes blurry pictures. If they are taking blurry pictures, then how can you be able to hit the ball squarely. This is by far the most important lesson in baseball. If you can hit... you won't sit! Too many players confuse hitting with hitting with power. Hitting with power is great and a player that can hit and hit with power is a God send, a player who can hit but doesn't hit for power is a scrapper, but a player who can hit for power but can't make contact is a disappointment.

No matter how hard you swing, it only matters if that hard swing makes solid contact, because without it, it is simply a strike. When you ask most players what they think is important for them to think about when they are hitting, sometimes you will hear "Keep your eye on the ball." Though keeping your eye on the ball is important, making sure that your head is stable throughout your swing is just as critical.

Too many young hitters throw their bodies around while they are hitting which causes heads to move all over the place. Remember, if you put a camera on a tripod but you kick the tripod, the camera is still going to take blurry pictures.

Take a look at this video of Miguel Cabrera hitting. When the camera view switches to show his swing from the side take notice how stable his head is.





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Practice Perfect Timing... But prepare for being early.


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

Over 100 years ago, baseball tried to outlaw Candy Cummings from throwing his new pitch called a curveball, but unfortunately for us hitters, they failed. Once all the other pitchers in the league found out what he was doing, they started doing it too.

Hitting coaches everywhere make mistakes when they chose their words around teaching their hitters timing. When teaching timing, we often get lost in the perfect swing and forget that real life hitting is not how it is in a batting cage. The mistake isn't the fact that if you time things perfectly, you will generate the most power you are capable of, it is also the fact that you will often not time things perfectly in a game.

When talking timing, the most debatable event is your stride. Stride early... Make sure you don't stride too early... Don't stride at all... Whatever your hitting coach is telling you... The one truth that I have found through my own experience as well as helping other hitters is simple. Though it is ideal for us to complete our stride with perfect timing (which is roughly when the ball is halfway to us), we will still be able to hit if we stride early. Striding late however is a whole different story.

Practice perfect timing so that when you are on time your body explodes on that puss the pitcher just served up, but even more importantly is to practice being fooled with your timing. Practice staying loose and relaxed when you stride early. If you partner that with keeping your body from completely drifting up over your front foot you will be able to attack even the dirtiest off speed pitches.





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Get the ball to carry.


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

Another heavily debated topic relates to the fact that a ball which is spinning with "backspin" will travel farther. Anyone who debates that fact is wrong. They can argue how to create it, but it is a scientific fact that a ball which is spinning with its lower section pushing against the air rushing towards it will create lift, and even though it isn't much, will defy gravity.

I am now an engineer, and for a fluid dynamics experiment in college I chose this topic. The experiment was simple, me and my group took a 2-wheel machine and shot some baseballs through it. We tested three different scenarios. The first being with the top wheel spinning faster than the bottom (creating a 12-6 curveball), the second being both wheels spinning at the same speed (creating a knuckleball - don't be dumb enough to set up a machine like this and try to hit because it is very dangerous), and the third being the bottom wheel spinning faster than the top (creating a typical fastball).

For each type of pitch we ensured that the angle did not change, and we used a radar gun to make sure that each pitch was exiting the machine at ~80 mph to ensure that the velocity was also the same. The test was simple... we would measure both the time the ball was in flight as well as the distance the ball traveled. Now I am not trying to insult you but gravity works the same on every object. Unless an object is firmly resting on something preventing it from being pulled toward the center of the Earth, it will accelerate at a rate of 32.2 ft/sec2. Which means after 1 second without an upward force stopping it, any object (even a baseball being thrown 100 mph) is moving 32.2 ft/sec (22 mph) toward the ground (and falling faster and faster for every second following until it hits the ground). We also recorded the time it would take for a baseball to hit the ground if it were simply dropped from the pitching machine height.

The results shouldn't surprise anyone that the 12-6 curveball landed the earliest and traveled the shortest distance (landing faster than the baseball we simply dropped from the same height). The knuckleball landed a little farther and, though it was expected, landed in the same amount of time it took for our dropped ball. Finally the ball with backspin landed quite a bit farther than the other two and also defied gravity by staying in the air longer than our dropped ball.

All that is simply to explain that creating backspin on a baseball (either thrown or hit), the ball will travel farther. So the more difficult part of this discussion is to inform you how to do it. There are those who argue that you must swing down, others say you need to have a level swing, and others (Ted Williams included) who feel you need to match the path of the ball which is slightly upward. Although I do have a preference, all three can create backspin on a baseball. The important step is really to allow the ball travel into the zone so that you can drive through it as explained in "Make Contact in a Strong Position."

Attached below are some slow motion HR Derby swings which you will see examples of guys hitting down through the baseball, making contact more level, and guys who flat out are getting underneath the ball.






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Create Torque


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Bryce-Harper-and-Jayson-Werth-make-an-ideal-combination-in-line-up-for-Washington-Nationals-MLB-188905_93

Muscles work like rubber bands... They stretch and they contract... And much like rubber bands when they are stretched they tend to want to snap back to a more relaxed position. If you think of your abdominal muscles simply as a bunch of rubber bands attaching your lower body to your upper body it is easy to understand the concept of generating torque through a process called kinetic linkage. The kinetic linkage concept is based on the coordination and specific order of movements to maximize the energy exerted at its completion.

When applied to baseball, the order of events is simple. Everything starts from the ground up. This means that the fist movement of your actual swing (not your set up/stride) would be with your lower half. For most of us this means we start our rotation with our back leg which in turn will start our hips. If our hips lead our upper body and our upper body is loose and relaxed (much like the end of a whip) we will create a little angle of separation between our upper and lower body (and if you are still thinking of our abdominal muscles as rubber bands) which in turn will generate torque.

This concept is much easier to feel than it is to see. Everything in hitting happens very fast, and though if you are really looking close you will more often than not see that the first movement from a Major League Hitter (once his stride foot is planted) is to create this angle of separation from his lower half to his upper half. However, this is one of those things which I will encourage you to try, because as difficult it may be to see this movement while looking at video, it is very easy to feel. I relate the feeling to a cartoon I once saw showed a hitter who spun their lower half around several times before he unleashed a devastating swing. As crazy as it sounds, it does feel like that. Try it for yourself.

JoshuaPerich Bio



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Be able to hit with a stripped down version of your swing.


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

More often than not, when you are in a slump, it is your setup and not your swing that is out of whack. A broken setup can be catastrophic to a hitter, making it virtually impossible to be able to hit live pitching. All of the little things we add to our swing to help generate momentum and additional power, are extremely effective when we are on time, however, when our timing is off with any one of these items it is difficult to fix them without a bunch of trips to the batting cages. And even then without someone who knows what they are looking for helping you, it can be difficult to fix simply because batting cage pitches aren't exactly the same as "Live Pitching".

One of the best ways to "feel" what is wrong is to be able to be able to hit without all those extra mechanical items. Even if it is only for drills and practice, hit without a stride and pay attention to your body. If you get 20 swings during your batting practice take 5 without a stride, if you get 10 swings take 2 or 3. Often, you can tell how good of shape your swing is in by how difficult it is to hit without a stride (not saying you will like it, but you will be able to hit if your swing is sound). Hitting without a stride will allow you to feel your body a little better, you will be able easily
stabilize your head and it should be very easy to make solid contact.

After regaining control of your body by hitting without a stride, slowly add back all the additional items, start with hands loading, then a simply stride, etc...




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Nothing is more important than Solid Contact


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Imagine you had the most powerful swing in all of baseball. Imagine you had more bat speed than Bryce Harper, you were stronger than Mark McGuire, and you have the best bat money can buy. Now, imagine with all these amazing gifts, every ball you hit is off the end of the bat, or you flat out miss. How much power would you have?

There are many contributing factors to hitting the ball with power. The most important of which is typically the most overlooked. It does not matter how much bat speed you have, or how strong you are, or even the type of bat you use, IF YOU DO NOT HIT THE BALL OFF THE GOOD PART OF THE BAT, THE BALL DOES NOT GO ANYWHERE! Too many times I see hitters step into a batting cage and struggle to make contact because all they are thinking about is swinging hard. It doesn't even don on them that they just missed 7 straight balls thrown from a machine at roughly the same location and the same speed. Good contact
IS something that can be improved! Therefore, the first thing a hitter should do in order to develop power is master all the skills involved in getting the barrel on the ball more often.

I am not telling you that after you have honed your skills on making good contact you don’t need to worry about learning to develop using your body with power, but I am telling you that a player with a good swing that never makes contact isn’t a hitter by definition, and will find himself on the bench.

JoshuaPerich Bio




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Drive through the ball.


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Baseball is not Golf! A golf ball weighs no more than 1.62 oz. and a golf club weighs roughly 11 oz. (for a club to ball weight ratio of 6.8:1). A baseball weighs 5 oz. and a bat is somewhere around 30 oz. (for a bat to ball weight ratio of 6:1). Though it may not seem like a big deal, the average baseball bat would have to be 34 oz. to be able to achieve the same weight ratio of club/bat to ball as golf. And that would only be for hitting a ball of the tee.

Unfortunately, in baseball we have to overcome the extra force that a baseball is exerting on our bat from being thrown at 90 friggen miles per hour. Everyone forgets about how much force this exactly is until it hits them in the side of the ribs and we remember how much a thrown baseball hurt. It hurts because it is exerting force on us. It is important to understand that the same amount of force is being exerted on our bat each time we make contact. In a sense, unlike the golf ball, a baseball fights back! In order to make sure that our bat accelerates through the ball we need to make sure we are not completely out of juice at the initial contact point.

Think of your swing like it were a boxers punch. If a boxer were to stand far enough away from his opponent to where he would make contact with him at the exact point where his arm were fully extended, although he would be making contact at the moment his fist was moving its fastest, his strike would do hardly more than sting a little bit. Now take that same boxer and allow him to hit his opponent one foot closer, his arm will be able to continue to extend and drive him backward. Hitting a baseball is very similar.

contact_position

When we think of hitting a baseball in the same way a boxer would about hitting his opponent, it becomes much easier to understand. Making contact with the baseball when our arms are extended is not the ideal position to hit. In order to drive the baseball, we need to make contact and drive through it.

JoshuaPerich Bio



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Hit from an Athletic Position


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This one is very simple... In any sport you play, the more often you are in an athletic position, the better you will do! Hitting is no different. This means, when we hit, we shouldn't be too narrow, nor too wide. An athletic position is somewhat unique to everyone, though it is always wider than shoulder width. The easiest way to find yours is to simply pretend you are fielding a ground ball or playing defense in basketball. The width that your feet go when you go to field a ground ball is your athletic position. You will also notice that while you are pretending to field that ground ball your chest will line up directly over your knees which will also be directly over the balls of your feet.

DeeGordonStanceMay62013

Starting out your stance in an athletic position will help ensure that your body won't have to make any quick jerky movements to get itself into an athletic position in order to take your swing. Often I find that hitters who are in slumps are guilty of straightening up their upper body such that their knees are over the balls of their feet, but their chest isn't. Then their first movement (which they are unaware of) is to throw their upper body over their knees while they are trying to stride or load causing some difficulties at picking up the ball early.

JoshuaPerich Bio



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