Mark My Words
…Mechanics Matter, Really Matter!
This season is going to shine a light on hitting like no other time in history and the players, teams, and coaches that are fundamentally the strongest are going to prevail. With bat restrictions mandated from the college down to little league, you are going to see players and coaches scrambling for some answers; the ones that truly “get it” and understand great hitting mechanics are going to have the upper hand, mark my words.
No longer are coaches, teams, and players going to be able to rely on bat manufacturers to provide them with the punch they need to perform at the plate and that is going to put a great deal of pressure on coaches and their programs to perform. There will be a significant decline in offensive production across the board regardless, and the programs that are teaching inadequate hitting mechanics will be forced to either adapt or step aside, it’s that simple.
Here is what I am talking about: Swinging down on a baseball trying to hit the top third of the ball is absolute garbage; “Sitting” back or “squishing the bug”- garbage; and finally, throwing the knob at the baseball is fundamentally brutal, and again…garbage.
These principles have been engrained into baseball for years and years and it is time that they make their departure.
I know many professional coaches, college coaches and a mass majority of the coaches are teaching these exact principles to hitting, but it is about to change. Why? Well, it is really pretty simple, crappy mechanics are no longer going to be able to cut it and the players and teams with the best mechanics are going to rise to the top.
Bats, especially high performance bats, have been masking bad mechanics for way too long now and we are about to witness an awakening in the world of hitting or at least a reality check.
Here is my simple version of a reality check and it is based on the best players in the game.
First, every single player in the MLB, and I mean EVERY, has a noticeable shifting of their weight forward prior to launching their hips, this is weight transfer; coaches that teach their players to sit back, squish the bug, kick the hat, etc.…are ignoring the importance of this hitting principle and simply don’t get it, not sure why, but they don’t.
Secondly, swinging down on a baseball is probably the silliest thing (I’m being nice here) I have ever heard. What in the heck (me being nice again) are they thinking, seriously? I had a coach once tell me that in order to maximize the loft and distance on a ball you need to hit down on the ball to create backspin (how do you even respond), but the craziest thing is that this ridiculous philosophy (belief) is preached almost like some sort of religious cult by coaches all across the country. How on earth it makes sense to coaches is beyond me, I don’t get it.
If coaches would just trust their gut instincts and believed what they were seeing, we would not even be having this conversation. But they don’t, so here we are discussing a simple physics lesson that a 4th grader could answer.
Finally, we have the teaching principle of throwing the knob of the bat at the ball as a fundamental hitting technique that too many coaches teach, and too many players are using. This simple act of taking the hands to the ball is so fundamentally flawed that it is a major contributor to lack of power and consistency at that is only going to be exacerbated by the new bat restrictions.
College coaches have to adjust what they are doing if they are going to compete at the highest level and take a close hard look at what they are teaching their players to do with the bat. This is a big pill to swallow and some coaches will make the necessary changes while others will stay the course and opt for recruiting faster and more athletic players to off set the lack of offensive punch they were getting from the bat companies.
In a recent “Baseball America,” Texas coach Augie Garrido lamented about how practice home run numbers are down about 75 percent, from 15 to 20 a BP to five or six, while Paul Mainieri, coach of the 2009 national champion LSU, reported fall intrasquad practice games homers dropping from 36 in 2008 to just six this past fall.
Power does not come cheap, by no means, and great hitting fundamentals will be the corner-stone that great programs will build upon. Time to change, time to change.