• Pretty Swing

    Posted by on September 1st, 2012 · Comments (14)

    As my 8-year old son prepares for his Fall Ball season this year – and he will be playing on two teams, one in Little League and the other one being a Travel squad – we’ve been spending a lot of time fine tuning his swing over the last seven weeks.

    At this point, I have it down where he needs to concentrate on four elements of the swing: A short and firm stride back towards the pitcher, having a rotational explosion of the hips so that his bellybutton faces the pitcher, leading with the knob of the bat towards the path of the pitched ball, and, then, finally, extending his elbows/arms to attack the baseball.

    Since he’s eight, he does better when he sees something and then has a chance to mimic it over and over again to get it down. So, I have been looking at sundry YouTube clips to find stuff that I can share with him that he can play on his iPod.

    Recently, I found this beauty – it shows everything that I am stressing with him, it’s short, and has catchy music to grab his attention. (Anything with too much narration and/or that’s drawn out loses his attention quickly.)

    If anyone knows of any other clips out there that would be helpful, please feel free to share the URLs in the comments section herein. And, thanks in advance for your assistance here.

    Comments on Pretty Swing

    1. jay
      September 2nd, 2012 | 9:26 am

      Steve- I would check out Chris O’Leary’s site. Teaching your son to ‘attack the baseball’ by pushing the knob of the bat to the ball is going to result in him swing more with his arms and less with the rotation driven by his core, legs and hips. You want to tuck that inside elbow into the hip and use the hip rotation all the way to the point of contact. Chris O’Leary has a dozen frame by frame clips that show that the best MLB hitters do exactly that.

    2. September 2nd, 2012 | 10:03 am

      Thanks Jay – I will check that out.

      It’s actually one of the things that he struggles with now – keeping his elbows at 90 degrees as he brings the knob towards the pitch. He often will lock out his bottom arm creating a sweeping swing that’s too long.

      That, and, he still tries to swing too hard with his arms.

      I’ve told him that he’s going to get the power from exploding with the hips, and, after that, he just needs to be quick with the bat and not have to try and swing hard…and that the power will come from the hips and not the arms.

      It’s a tough sell getting into the head of an 8-year old, esp when it’s your own kid. (It’s amazing. Something most parents experience. Kids will listen to a coach like he walks on water. But, if their parent tells them the same thing, they’re an idiot and don’t know what they are talking about.)

      Maybe I will pick up one of Chris’ DVDs and that will help?

    3. Raf
      September 2nd, 2012 | 10:15 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      It’s a tough sell getting into the head of an 8-year old, esp when it’s your own kid. (It’s amazing. Something most parents experience. Kids will listen to a coach like he walks on water. But, if their parent tells them the same thing, they’re an idiot and don’t know what they are talking about.)


      It’s tough to do, because it seems counterintuitive. Swinging harder or using a heavier bat leads to more power, it HAS to. 😛

    4. September 2nd, 2012 | 11:26 am

      @ Raf:
      Since he’s been 6-years old, to keep it simple up to this point, I have been preaching to him:

      1. Use a stance that doesn’t hurt you and that helps you.
      2. Keep your eye on the ball – watch it hit the bat.
      3. Swing short and quick and not long and hard.

      Only #2 stuck.

      Every time he sees someone in MLB using a strange stance, like Youk or Tex, he then tries it and it takes days for me to work him out of it. And, he still swings the bat like Mickey Mantle, trying to hit the ball 600 feet on every swing.

      I lot of his stupid coaches love that latter part in him. “Look at this kid swing!” (At his age, few kids take an aggressive hack.) But, I would rather see him swing like Paul Molitor or Tim Raines, if I had my pick. Even Jeter would be perfect for now. Everything thinks Jeter only hits to right. And, he does, often. But, he turns on the inside pitch too, when he wants to do it. I have really grown to love his swing.)

    5. jay
      September 2nd, 2012 | 11:31 am

      @ Steve L.:

      The DVD is great, but what’s even better is that it gets you access to his site, which has narratives on all of the different concepts.

      Also, I think that left arm needs to be 135 degrees or so, not 90. But definitely not straight (like a golfer.) When you bend the arm, it keeps the hands behind the hips.

      A good drill for this is what O’Leary calls the George Brett drill. If you can find a video of George Brett (shouldn’t be too hard) you can see how he keeps the bat on the outside of his back shoulder. The drill is basically to put the bat on the outside of your back shoulder, and keep it there as you hit off a tee. It helps you feel what it’s like to keep rotating to the point of contact instead of letting your hands come free of your hip and start moving towards the ball.

      Also, get a camera and video his swing. An iPhone with video works really well, too actually. You can break the swing down frame by frame and focus on working specific issues.

    6. jay
      September 2nd, 2012 | 11:33 am

      @ jay:

      BTW, my post was meant to be from the perspective of a right handed hitter. So, left arm bent 135 degrees so the hands are back at the back shoulder, and the right arm is really bent like a V – the elbow start up and then collapses to couple to the hip as you rotate.

    7. September 2nd, 2012 | 3:17 pm

      @ jay:

      Do you have the DVD? I saw an old thread at BaseballFever where they were ripping the production value of it, along with Chris’ lack of playing experience beyond Little League. Sort of scared me off it.

      Not that the lack of experience means that much to me. I fully understand that you don’t need the experience of doing something to dissect it, etc.

      BTW, I have done some “video” on my son. I use a Fuji FinePix S camera that takes 20 pictures in a row…and then I take those stills and use Windows movie maker and turn them into a slow stop action movie.

      It’s very much like the flip book that Chris talks about.

      It’s extremely useful with my son. I can tell him that he’s doing something, because I see it, but, he will deny that he’s doing it. (Again, he’s eight.) But, when I show him with the stills where he can see the swing in stop action sequences, then he sees what I see and finally gets it.

    8. September 2nd, 2012 | 3:20 pm

      Also, as far as the bend in the elbow, I tell him 90 degrees with the hope that it’s just less than 180 degrees. 🙂

      Some bend, keeping his hands inside the ball, is better than zero bend with the stiff arm.

    9. jay
      September 2nd, 2012 | 5:36 pm

      @ Steve L.:

      I do have the DVD. And yes, the production value is pretty terrible. It’s this guy in his back yard with a bat. But it’s really only meant to have someone talk you through the concepts instead of having to read them.

      And yeah, the guy isn’t a baseball player. I think he may be an engineer. But he certainly doesn’t claim to be any expert. He’s a guy like you – trying to figure how to teach his kids to hit. And he’s a crazy Cardinals fans, so he goes to the games and takes high speed video of hitter like Pujols and Holliday. He’s got a lot of other guys that rolled through St. Louis as well.

      And I guess a lot of people rip on him, and I think I understand why. Playing baseball and hitting is such a big thing with dads and kids. When I go the cage (I’m a big kid myself – 32 and still playing), all I hear is dads yelling at their kids – “keep your arm up”, “swing harder!” , “swning now!” and all you see is some poor skinny kid hating his life while he tries his hardest only to have his dad yell at him more. Point it’s a “you don’t know what you’re talking about” topic for a lot of people, and I guess that’s where it comes from. O’Leary’s approach is to look to see what the best hitters do, try to understand it, and then have his kid do it. I do the things he teaches and I can tell you from my experience that it works.

      Anyway, thats my 2 cents. I bought the DVD, got access to the client site, and my hitting improved. I needed help on keeping my hands back and when to time the pitch (using milestones from the pitchers motion and release point.) It made a world of difference. If you get it, I’m up for talking about any of the topics at length. Love talking about hitting.

    10. September 2nd, 2012 | 8:34 pm

      @ jay:
      Thanks Jay.

      Yeah, me too – love to talk hitting. Ever since the 1st Charlie Lau book came out, I have been a junkie. And, I still learn things all the time, after all these years.

      I hear you on the dad thing. It got so bad last spring with the team I was managing, having all the fathers scream at their kids batting “Keep that back elbow up!” that I told them all to google “back elbow up fallacy” to try and get them to stop it. (They stopped after I did that.)

      And, I am careful not to make this painful for my son. I tell him all the time “Baseball is a lot more fun when you are doing well. And, I am just trying to help you do better. But, at the end of the day, do what you want. And, if you’re not doing well, and want some help, I am always willing to spend the time and do the work to try and help you do your best.”

    11. Raf
      September 3rd, 2012 | 10:03 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      I lot of his stupid coaches love that latter part in him. “Look at this kid swing!” (At his age, few kids take an aggressive hack.) But, I would rather see him swing like Paul Molitor or Tim Raines, if I had my pick.

      Yeah, I was taught to be like Molitor too.

      I try not to get into it with coaches anymore (be they my own or my cousins), it becomes too much of a hassle, especially when I’m not around to reinforce the lessons. Right now, I’m working with my cousin on pitch selection and sequencing, and what to look for. I’m trying to get him to play pepper. His coaches say he has world class defense, but his hitting needs a lot of work. Much of that is he’s too aggressive, he hasn’t learned to control the strike zone (which to be honest, is rare in high schoolers). So I’m teaching him to try and work the count, to understand what’s going on as a pitcher (smaller guy, so they’re going to keep challenging him), occasionally throwing something offspeed to keep him honest. I’m also trying to get him to use a smaller/lighter bat, but it seems that there have been some regulational changes.

      He also has patterned himself after Jeter, but I’m trying to get him out of doing the bat waggle, as that’s messing up his timing. He told me that he used to go the other way a lot, but he recently started getting pull happy. I wanted to smack him, because I told him that he’s not a big guy, so it’s good that he’s willing to go the other way, because at this level, the tendency is for hitters to always pull the ball. 🙂

      And of course, I finally get him to listen, so what happens? The umpire decides to call everything from the neck to the ankles *facepalm*

      But at least he’s listening and learning, and hopefully he’ll be able to take these lessons into fall ball.

    12. September 3rd, 2012 | 10:11 am

      Plus, Raf, if he’s got the defensive game down, that’s huge. So many kids just want to hit and never take ground balls or shag. That’s a huge problem, IMHO. You need to be able to have a place to play in the field. And, if you can field, that gives you a leg up.

    13. September 4th, 2012 | 2:12 pm

      Anyone have any experience with Joe Brockhoff’s DVDs?

    14. December 18th, 2013 | 5:29 pm

      jay wrote:

      Steve- I would check out Chris O’Leary’s site.

      Chris isn’t making many fans these days:


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