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Par Four Family Entertainment Center

Call us at 304-722-6393

AREAS BEST BATTING CAGES, BASEBALL & SOFTBALL BATTING & PITCHING LESSONS, DRIVING RANGE, AND MINIATURE GOLF

Batting & Pitching Blogs

Batting & Pitching Blogs

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Squish the bug Bad Hitting Cue

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:15 PM

Squish the bug is a bad hitting cue I hear everyday by coaches that come in with their teams and by parents that bring their sons and daughters in to hit in our batting cages.   Parents pick it up from hitting instructors, coaches and other parents then start telling their kids and other kids.  Squish the bug according to the high school instruction manual is when you pivot your back foot like squishing a bug and stay on the ball of your foot so you won't let the bug get out from under your foot.  The bad thing is squish the bug is a terrible hitting cue because it holds your power back.  The very best hitters in baseball and fastpitch softball do not squish the bug. 


                                                                                                                  


Above is one of my students hitting a shot off the wall and 1 of the best hitters of all time, Tony Gwynn.  Both are at impact and they are not squishing the bug, their back foot is actually off the ground.  Three years ago my student was being taught to squish the bug, swing down, stay back and use fast hands by all of his coaches.   He could barely hit the ball out of the infield.  He was hitting so bad he was ready to quit baseball just because of bad instruction (I hear this way too often).  He came in and worked hard on learning how the very best hitters in Major League Baseball actually swing the bat, the opposite of what he was being taught.   As a 12 yr old he became the most powerful hitter in St. Albans Little League history by hitting a record 22 home runs and his batting average was over .750, all this and he weighed only 90 pounds.  He even added 5 home runs in 3 all star games.  He is now one of the best hitters in the state at 14 years old because he is swinging the bat like the best hitters in baseball.   


This applies to both baseball and fastpitch softball hitters.  Squish the bug will make you swing with your arms, the opposite of what you want to do.   When you learn how to use your body like the very best hitters in Major League Baseball and Team USA Fastpitch Softball you will add power, consistency and better timing into your swing.


Anyone that would like to learn to swing with their body correctly so you can add much more force and consistency into your hitting call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information.

Pitching Use Your Body For More Power And Success

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:15 PM

In my previous blog I talked about how pitching with your body will help you increase your velocity, control and take stress off of your arm. You look and feel so much more effortless whether pitching or in the field when you use your body to generate the energy when throwing a baseball or softball.   The problem is each student that comes in for lessons throws mainly with their arm because of what they have been taught.   When I start a new lesson with each student I ask what they have learned from coaches, instructors, other parents and on the Internet.  

 

In baseball almost all players say they are being taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • When stride knee comes up balance on back leg
  • When front foot lands ball is looking at 2nd base 
  • When front foot lands glove is pointed to home plate
  • Take chest to glove when throwing
  • Twist or rotate hips
  • Elbow goes up above shoulder when throwing
  • Faster arm for more speed
  • Snap your wrist at release for more speed
  • Finish down (pick up dirt)

 

In fastpitch softball almost all players say they are taught one or more of these bad pitching cues that cause bad pitching mechanics:

 

  • Make faster arm circle
  • Ball looking at 2nd base when front foot lands 
  • Snap or flip wrist at release
  • Rotate or snap hips at release
  • Hello elbow or curl elbow after flipping wrist

 

Any one of these pitching cues taught in baseball and fastpitch softball will make you throw mainly with your arm.   Almost all instructors from Little League to the pros teach these. They will decrease your velocity and take away the control you need to be more successful. These are also what causes pitchers to get sore arms because of too much stress put on the shoulder and elbow.  There are so many misconceptions about the proper mechanics of a pitcher.  When pitchers start using their arm more they look tighter, more jerky and they start having problems getting hitters out.


A good example of this is a few years ago in 2011 Jose Valverde was one of the best relievers in baseball with 49 saves, no blown saves and a 2.24 ERA.   The next year he had 35 saves, 5 blown saves and a 3.78 ERA.   The decline continued in the playoffs, he pitched in 4 games lasting a total of 2.2 innings in which he gave up 11 hits and 9 earned runs for a 30.38 ERA.  He pitched only two more years with his ERA never below 5.59.  


According to Fangraphs.com his average fastball only went down only .5 mph from 93.8 in 2011 to 93.3mph in 2012.   That is not much of a problem. The problem is his line drive percentage went up from 16.2% in 2011 to 22% in 2012, almost a 36% increase.   In the playoffs his line drive percentage went up to a whopping 53.8%.   How could this happen?   

 

In 2012 his pitching coach was watching video and he noticed Valverde was dragging his back foot.  The pitching coach told him he needed to raise his back foot not drag it.   You have to be kidding!   All pitchers drag their back foot.  You could see him actually raising his back foot as he threw the ball which took his body completely out of his motion.  This made him start throwing with his arm.  He started throwing much harder with his arm so he wouldn't lose much velocity which meant he wouldn't have the control needed to hit his spots. With the ball out over the plate more often he continued to get hit harder.  That is why so many more line drives were hit off him during 2012 and in the playoffs.

 

The real problem was the new pitching cue made him start throwing with his arm.  He just needed someone that had a clue about pitching mechanics to work with him on using his body correctly to generate more energy forward.   Then he could have started relaxing his arm to let this energy release through the ball.  He would have his control back and he could hit his spots much more consistently and not leave the ball out over the plate.  He would also feel so much more effortless which would slow down the game for him.

 

Depending on the statistics you read when a batter in the Major Leagues hits a fly ball 79% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a ground ball 72% of the time it is an out.   When they hit a line drive they are out only 20 to 26% of the time.  This means at any level if a pitcher gets hitters to hit fly balls and grounders they can be very successful.  This means they need the control to be able to hit spots consistently with their pitches to keep hitters from hitting line drives.  If a pitcher loses their control and leaves pitches out over the plate they will not be as successful.


I video every new student that comes in for pitching lessons whether they play baseball or fastpitch softball.   The reason is every pitcher that comes in throws with their arm beacuse of the bad pitching cues (listed above) they are taught.   I then put them beside a Major League or Team USA pitcher so they can see how the very best pitchers actually use their body.   They are amazed how the pro pitchers look so smooth and effortless.  When they learn how to throw with their body they are amazed how hard they throw, their control is so much better and how effortless it feels on them and especially their arm.


If anyone would like more information about good pitching mechanics and how they can help make you much more successful call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393.

Yasiel Puig swing- even a small change can cause negative impact

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:10 PM

Originally posted August 30, 2013


Watching ESPN I keep hearing how Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers was benched by the Manager.  Puig is a very emotional player.  You could tell after striking out on a bad pitch and slamming his bat on the ground he was very frustrated.   In the outfield he was still irritated when he caught the two fly balls and then flipped the last one into the stands.   I have noticed in the last month Puig seems to have changed the way he steps which will affect how he swings the bat and his production.


When I first watched him hit in June he used his body as good as any hitter in baseball today.  At 6 foot 3 inches and 245 pounds it would be crazy for him not to use his body.   He was taking a five to six inch stride then going forward to his front leg allowing him to generate tremendous force with his body. This allowed his timing to be consistent, he looked so effortless and hit the ball so hard because he used his 245 pound body, this made him an elite hitter.   He is very impressive when he swings this way.


The last few weeks I noticed he goes up on his front toe more and then takes a smaller step.  Instead of then going forward he is now rotating more.  Puig is not using near the body weight that he was using before.   He is becoming more frustrated because he is not hitting the ball as hard as before.  He is rotating faster to get his power back but this is not helping and will not help.   This will only make his timing more inconsistent.  He doesn't look as effortless because he is also using his arms trying to create more power.  This causes his swing to be more jerky resulting in him hitting less line drives and more pulled grounders and weaker fly balls.   Below are his stats before and after the all star game.

                                                                                                                                                 Line              Fly                Home run

                                                                                         G          Avg         HR       RBI        Drive%           Ball%            per fly ball %

Before all star game                                                        38       .391              8            19       23.9%           24.8 %             28.6%

After all star game                                                           38       .297              5            11       14.7%            36.3%             13.5%

You can see since the all star game Puig's production has come down.  His line drives are down almost 40%.  He is hitting more fly balls but they are being hit weaker, less than half of the time they are a home run as before.


Just taking a shorter step is causing Puig to now use less of his body.  He is swinging so much faster with his arms.  His swing has gone from effortless power to powerless effort.   This has made a significant impact in his hitting.  It doesn't matter how good of a batter he is, if he starts stepping shorter and swinging faster his production will keep going down.   This is true for everyone.  Any batter in baseball or fastpitch softball that swings more with their arms will not hit at their best.  


I see this everyday with my students.   When batters come in they have been told things that make them swing mainly with their arms like don't take a step, squish the bug, twist their hips, fast hands, swing down, stay back, etc.   They look more jerky in their swing, their timing is inconsistent, they hit fewer line drives with much less power than they should and they get frustrated.  The harder they swing the worse it gets.


When my students learn how to use their body correctly they see an immediate difference.   Many parents say it is a night and day difference.  They can't believe how much harder the ball comes off the bat and how it sounds completely different.


All Puig needs to do is take his original longer step so he has more room to go forward allowing him to use his 245 pound body much better like he did before.  This will provide an immediate positive impact making his timing better. This will help him to hit the ball much harder with many more line drives.  He will again look effortless and be very productive.


Anyone that would like to learn how to use his or her body to become a much better hitter call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information.


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