Archive for October, 2012
Want to get someones attention fast? Tell them you have a sure-fire way to lose weight. And not just lose weight….lose weight fast. If you claim to have “the silver bullet” everyone is looking for to lose weight, you’ll be sure to get some attention. Just for fun, I googled “lose weight fast”. It returned over 80 million results. Then I googled “blood sugar and insulin”. It returned only 11 million! That certainly doesn’t surprise me. The “why” of weight loss isn’t nearly as exciting as the “hope” of weight loss. Maybe there’s a silver bullet out there that can help me circumvent all of the diet and exercise that I know I should be doing. Sorry. It always comes back to the “why”.
For those actually interested in the “why” of weight loss, here’s my cliff notes. INSULIN is the key. It’s both your friend and your enemy. INSULIN is released into the bloodstream by your pancreas when your blood sugar rises to escort the sugar in your blood to your cells to be used for energy. But here’s the “catch”. If you have excess sugar (glucose) in your cells, its converted into fat. So the key to true weight loss is managing how much sugar you have in your blood. Because, without any sugar for INSULIN to escort, there is nothing to be converted to fat. Make sense? Ever wonder why type 1 diabetics are so skinny? Because their bodies don’t produce INSULIN naturally by themselves. In other words, there’s no fat converter. So, what role does fat in the diet play in getting fat? Very little. Fat does not increase your blood sugar nearly as quickly as starchy carbohydrates and sugary foods.
Back to baseball. In a similar manner, I googled “hit for more power” and it returned a whopping 645,000,000 results. Holy crap. Do you think people are looking for a silver bullet? Then I googled “creating ground forces to improve angular velocity” and it returned a measly 1,000,000 results. BUT LOOK WHO’S TOP DOG! Nice.
The lesson learned. There’s more selling power in “hope”. There’s more HITTING POWER in “why”!
Feel free to visit our new website GREENLIGHTHITTING.COM for more information about understanding the “why”.
Would you have read the blog if the title was, “The value of a good changeup?” Of course not. Well…you’re here now. You might as well keep reading.
I’ve been giving pitching lessons for over 10 years now and I’ve never had anyone come in and say “I want better command of my changeup!” All I ever hear is “I want to throw harder” or “I want a better breaking ball”. Never “…more command of my changeup”. The funny thing is that when I ask high level hitters what’s the hardest pitch to hit they all say “THE CHANGEUP”. So, understanding that it’s miserable to hit, why do so few parents, coaches, and kids value the changeup? I’ll give you three.
1. It’s not glamorous.
The fastball is glamorous. Scouts and radar guns make the fastball glamorous. It’s the holy grail of pitchers. Throw hard. Don’t get me wrong, having an outstanding fastball is awesome because you have more room for error. But…There is a ceiling to how hard you are going to throw. Sometimes its pure genetics.
2. It’s hard to measure.
The fastball is easy to measure. Even breaking balls are easy to measure. How much break? How sharp is the break? How late is the break? All important variables in a good breaking ball. But, it’s hard to measure hand speed in relation to your fastball and overall deception. Because that’s truly what separates the good changeups from the bad ones.
3. They don’t know what they’re watching.
Do you know how many “baseball people” (including some GoWags coaches) have no idea when a pitcher throws a great changeup? Lots! If people actually understood what they were watching when they watched professional pitchers like Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, and Johnny Cueto carve up big league hitters they’d have a greater appreciation for what a good changeup can do.
If your son is a pitcher and you aren’t trying to master the changeup, you aren’t truly developing a pitcher. Sure, he may have considerable success pitching against high school age kids and younger, but the shelf life of a consistent “swing and miss breaking ball” expires right around college. If you have aspirations of pitching at a higher level, you might want to mix in a changeup now and then.
Oh…Back to the title of the blog. A good changeup makes your fastball look even faster.
Man do I wish I could have John Facenda promote the Horse Tournament! As you watch the video below, imagine he’s selling how awesome our Fall / Winter Horse tournament is.
Then go to our website and sign up immediately.
When you’re close to something, you take things for granted. And if you find yourself teaching on a subject you’re intimately familiar with, it’s easy to assume that your audience knows what you know. Even the basics. With that said, I’d like to take a page or two and define Green Light Hitting. Again. Because it’s that important for the developing hitter.
Just like mathematics, Green Light Hitting is a system that builds on itself. Just like you wouldn’t teach Calculus to a student who hasn’t had Algebra, you don’t teach a Level 5 hitter Level 7 skills. They just aren’t ready. Here are the Green Light Hitting levels defined.
Levels 1-2: Hitters must anticipate. They anticipate hitting a moving target. They need to unlock their mind, so to speak. In order to do this, they must show a willingness to hit and an understanding of “tracking” the ball and anticipating its end location.
Levels 3-4: Hitters try to rotate primarily about their wrists. This produces a weak, off plane swing. Instruction is designed to “freeze” the wrist action and to “free” the hip joints. We want the bat on plane through the use of bigger muscles. Engage the hips. However, since the wrists are functioning, it is very beneficial to train the wrists how to move correctly. The wrists should move from radial deviation to ulnar deviation rather than from flexion to extension.
Levels 5-6: Not only do we want the hips engaged but now we want them engaged on two planes. We want them rotating through the transverse plane but we also want them “tilting” through the sagittal plane. This is where we say “STAY OVER THE PLATE!” We are really focusing on the hips allowing us to be on plane. Special attention is still paid to the wrists moving efficiently from radial deviation to ulnar deviation.
Levels 7-8: This is where we “free” the front shoulder joint for rotation. We work on pre-stretching the scapula so it can pull the lead arm into the ball. Hip action along two planes is still very prevalent with our training. Level 7 and 8 hitters can begin using the wrist joint to add an extra whip to the end of the bat. These hitters should have the bat cocked in the direction of the pitcher. This is a pre-stretch of sorts for the hands to launch correctly into the ball. It is useless to recognize this aspect of hitter training until the hips are unlocked.
Level 9-10: Our focus for these hitters is making the front shoulder joint two-dimensional. Instead of simply pulling the bat to the ball it must now also change planes as the ball begins to change planes. The front shoulder joint, powered by the scapula, pinches as the ball moves in. We are adjusting our barrel from out to in with multi-planar hip action and multi-planar shoulder joint action.
Levels 11-13: With the introduction of the curveball, we focus on the hip-joint delaying rotation or moving through the 3rd plane, the frontal plane. The hip-joint now maintains three degrees of freedom while the shoulder joint maintains two. The wrists joints must maintain their hinge(radial deviation) in order to prevent the bat from accelerating too quickly. The wrist joint is definitely a focal point to assist with adjustment and improving bat speed.
Levels 14-15: Level 14 and 15 are designed to give our developing hitter practice in applying all three joints in action. Can we crate force with our hip action and then adjust properly over both the sagittal plane and the frontal plane? Does our shoulder joint engage in two planes? Are we using the wrist joint to create a longer arc into the ball, staying leveraged as the other joints move?
Level 16: These high level hitters have properly engaged their hips and shoulder joints over time. They have incredible “angular velocity”. They have the ability to move on plane and to adjust on plane. As the pitcher begins to command the zone with unpredictable pitches, the high level hitter must adjust late in the hitting window. From the degree of freedom standpoint, emphasis is now placed on the hands and wrist joints. The wrist joint is the last arc in the swing. It is why big league coaches focus primarily on “freezing” the hip joints and shoulder joints. You will see very high level players practice drills that have absolutely zero application to lower level players. Essentially, Level 16 players are trying to prevent themselves from “pulling off the ball.”
Lots of information to digest for sure. And, I can assure you, that we don’t use this kind of terminology when working with developing hitters. We don’t want “paralysis by analysis”. The goal is to “implicitly” teach them. In other words, use repetition in the form of drills to produce the desired results without them thinking too much. Plus, it’s more fun that way.
Green Light Hitting has its own dedicated website now. Visit http://www.GreenLightHitting.com to see our new website. You can preview the book and ask questions in our online forum.
“There is no tomorrow….There is no tomorrow….There is no tomorrow!”
Apollo Creed, in Rocky III, understood the importance of urgency when training and working towards a goal.
Settings goals is easy. Heck…coming up with a plan of attack to achieve those goals is easy. The hard part is making the commitment to actually do the work and to create a sense of urgency to work towards that end. All high achievers have it. That sense of urgency to get things done.
There is no silver bullet in baseball. Everything requires hard work and effort. And time…Lots and lots of time. Find the time for tee work. Find the time for strength and conditioning. Find the time for long toss. Find the time to practice your pitching motion with a towel. Don’t forget to get your arm up in time. Drive your back knee towards home plate. Start flat…stay flat. Create momentum. Transfer momentum. Get it out in front. Push the sled. Hit off iron mike. Run hills. Do something. Do something today.