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Fitting square pegs in round holes

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Thu Oct 2 16:46:00 2008

Hi All

Most of the hitters I work with developed their swing from linear batting principles and cues. These mechanics seemed adequate for the players first few years. But as the sport becomes more competitive and -3 bats are made mandatory, many young hitters (and their dads) find that their swing mechanics are not the mechanics they see exhibited in the swings of the games best hitters. Many of these players and dads decide the rotational batting principle presented here at Batspeed.com represents the higher level mechanics they saw and e-mail me regarding private lessons.

When helping a student make the conversion from linear to rotational swing mechanics, it is essential for the student to have confidence in the new batting principles he is asked to develop. Four of my most recent students are college players from the Midwest. They had numerous questions regarding the conflicting views on swing mechanics and batting cues they receive from past and present coaches.

Before our training sessions begin, I address each student's concerns by using frame-by-frame video to compare the principle or cue in question to what the games best hitters exhibit. Although these hitters play under different college coaches, a common theme is found in all their concerns -- Basically, they were all taught that 'straight movements are good' and 'circular movements are bad.'

When viewing high level swings (especially over-head views), the students could see the body, limbs and bat traveling in a series of accelerating arcs. Yet, not one of the students could think of a single batting cue that promoted the circular movements they saw. -- For 18 years, I too taught those linear principles and cues to my players. And I, like my student�s coaches, was just teaching what we all were taught. We had been convinced that those cues would produce maximum bat speed and consistent contact.

The main problem is -- those linear cues I taught are based on a false theory of what induces the bat's angular acceleration. We were told that energy attained from the body's forward weight-shift and A-to-B extension of the hands would cause the bat-head to snap around like "The Crack of a Whip." As the video clip below illustrates and many other test confirm that theory is false. -- There is no generation of bat speed that results from shifting weight forward and extending the hands A-to-B.

Mechanics that generate bat speed --

I think there is also a problem when coaches say they teach rotational mechanics while maintaining the linear cues and drills they grew up with are still valid. Granted, attempts have been made to alter their original intent to better match today's high level mechanics. However, that doesn't fly with me. -- Its still like "Fitting square pegs in round holes."

Jack Mankin


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