Archive for Hitting

Video Analysis…

Video Analysis and over thinking/over coaching…

To be smart in this game is important. To know your body better than anyone else is a must. To know what adjustments you need to make physically or mentally, in the moment, are skills you MUST develop for long term success. This is one layer of Mental Toughness.

If you work hard at perfecting your swing or delivery then it’s certain that you know more than many about the mechanics of the game. You most likely watch video and probably spend a lot of time breaking down your own mechanics and comparing them to the great ones and look for similarities and differences. That’s great! You are becoming a student of the game and developing a work ethic needed for that long term success. You are learning to pay attention to those small details which is a skill you will undoubtedly need at some point later in life.

Here are a few things we ALL need to keep in mind when working with video analysis…

Getting “In the Zone”:
You will find that your best performances will occur when you are “In the Zone.” When the only thoughts going on in your mind are what you want to do on the next pitch. They are all forward focused. Your instincts are taking over and all that preparation you have done is going to work.

Often though players who train a lot and give so much focus on the mechanic side of the game have a hard time getting into these grooves as their minds have become so focused on breaking down each delivery or swing. The competitor in them is being held back as they are almost competing against themselves instead of their opponent.

Focus on the Good:
Watch video of success. Break down the GOOD swings. Analyze your delivery on those great days. And when things are off, something just doesn’t feel right, you need to compare yourself to those days.

Often players only want to watch video when things are going bad. If you are a video guy, I suggest you focus on those great moments. Ingrain those images and feelings in your head as much as possible.

Less talking, more working:
Every player is different. Some like constant feedback while most excel when allowed to get into that groove. When a player is working and things are going well, throwing strikes, executing pitches, repeating their swing, let them work. Don’t say a word. An “Atta’boy” is all that is necessary. And if they may be struggling to execute, encourage them to stop thinking and to work quicker to possibly get into that groove.

I strongly suggest not being that coach/parent who feels they need to say something after each rep. As a former player there was nothing worse than being interrupted while I was working.

“Stop thinking, visualize success and let it happen”:
Let your instincts take over. You have put in a lot of work NOW let it work. Train yourself to visualize success before each pitch, whether in the box, on the mound or in the field, learn to trust yourself. And when you make a mistake, move on as quickly as possible, visualize success as quickly as possible and trust yourself.

When a player starts talking mechanics while working, though I am happy they are thinking, they are often over thinking and they don’t even realize it. They are failing not because of a physical flaw but a mental flaw. We must help snap them out of that thought process and help them change their mindset by putting good words and thoughts in their mind. It’s always amazing what some positive vibes can do for an athlete.

Video Analysis is a great tool and a big reason why we are able to help more players get the most out of their body. Personally I use it often with my students but it’s not a staple each time we work. More like on a when needed basis.

In conclusion, be a student of the game, know yourself better than anyone else. The ultimate goal is for players to become their own coaches and to know their own adjustments. But understand this certain truth, those adjustments will more often than not need to be mental adjustments rather than physical adjustments. ALWAYS focus on your mindset. The prettiest swing or the smoothest delivery won’t mean much if your mental toughness lacks. Train to trust yourself, let your instincts take over and COMPETE!

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


5 Ways we are Failing to Prepare THEM

Raising and developing people…

THIS is what our job is as adults. Realize it or not, most everything that happens on a ball field can be related to life in some way. The problem is, many are failing to see what this is all about. We have become so obsessed with the outcome that we are failing to recognize and believe in the process. We often hear “Trust The Process” used but then find that those who frequently use this term simply do not understand what it really means.

“The Process” requires patience. It calls for us knowing what the end goal is. It takes us ADULTS teaching, then stepping back and letting them figure it out while resisting the urge to step in at the sign of failure. Failure is THE key to long term success. They are moments disguised as disappointment and embarrassment but are actually blessings in disguise. The problem though lies with the adults, parents and coaches, who lack patience for failure and see our player’s and children’s failures as a reflection of our ability to teach and lead. That’s when we see the adults making it about them when we all should know what this is really all about…THE KIDS.

Here are 5 things that are happening on fields across the nation that are stunting player and individual growth…

Pigeon Holing Players:
We need to stop viewing them as “The Shortstop” or “The Center Fielder”. They are Baseball players. They are “Athletes”. The goal is for them to be able to confidently tell their HS coach at their freshman year tryouts that they can play wherever they need them. A player who played only SS his whole youth life is limited. Sure not everyone can pitch or catch but know this, we are not helping them develop their baseball IQ and “Options” when we develop them as a one dimensional player. Teach them and help them learn the game from multiple angles on the field.

Calling Pitches:
Robots don’t think, they wait for commands. Why do we feel the need to call every single pitch from the dugout? It’s great that you know how to get youth hitters out but that’s not your job. The ball is not in your hand. Relinquish control, teach them how to observe the situation and the hitter AND LET THEM PLAY SOME BASEBALL. Will they make some poor choices on pitch selection…You bet! That’s where we help them between innings to learn so they are better prepared for the next time that situation comes up. Not only is this not good for them to develop as thinkers and observers, it’s horrible for the pace of a game. Talk about a tempo killer. Teach them, pitchers and catchers, to work together, work fast and get their boys back in the dugout as soon as possible. Bosses tell people what to do, leaders teach people what to do. Which one are you?

Undeserved Playing Time:
When a player is involved in too many things at once and continually fails to attend team practices…When a player continually displays poor body language…When a player is disrespectful towards the umpires, their teammates or coaches…Playing time is NOT deserved. By rewarding these behaviors with the privilege of seeing the ball field, we are making a huge mistake. Talent shouldn’t matter…Opponent shouldn’t matter…The importance of the game shouldn’t matter…RAISING AND DEVELOPING THAT PERSON MATTERS. You ARE instilling ego and entitlement and you may not even realize it. Many things are bigger than the game and this may be the biggest of all. The greed of wanting to win is taking over common sense and blinding many to what this is really all about.

Ignoring Defensive Fundamentals:
Knowing how to read the play. Knowing what their job is. Knowing where to back up and where to throw the ball. Knowing how to properly execute and rundown. Developing instincts through repetitions. Too many games and not enough practice. Many HS players know what they should do on a play but when it comes down to it, in the moment, they have underdeveloped instincts as they simply have not practiced these fundamentals enough. Pitchers working on their craft is often ignored because “It takes too much time”. The fact is, pitching and defense is what wins and loses most ball games. If you can’t take care of the ball (throw strikes, field and catch the ball) the other team will make their way around the bases whether they are a good hitting team or not. There should be just as much defensive work as there is offensive work, if not more.

Instilling Ego, Entitlement and Un-Coachable Attitudes:
Help them develop confidence but keep them humble. Take ability out of the picture and treat them all as people. Help them understand there are many ways to be successful in this game (and in life) and for them to grow as much as possible, they must look for as much information as possible, ask questions whenever possible and NEVER go into a situation of opportunity with a closed mind. Talking down about their teammates and coaches is a HUGE parenting mistake. It’s the good old fashioned term, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!” Realize it or not, you are teaching the skill of gossip, you are instilling a sense of being better than everyone else and you are instilling habits that WILL get them in trouble at some point later in life. Lastly, teach them that success is earned. Find different ways to make them earn their keep. Teach them that talent will only get them so far, that their work ethic, their character, their dedication and perseverance will all be the deciding factor as they grow.

ALL of these things happen on and off a field during a baseball season. Some may read this and take it personal, that’s fine. Some may read this and feel pain as they have, or are, living this. I’m nearly 40 years old, have been blessed with a life where I got to play, and now teach, the game of baseball. I understand I have been able to experience things that most will never get to and that keeps me humble. Now I have the privilege to teach what I have learned, and am still learning, every day. It’s up to you if you want to be coachable (yes adults should be coachable too), or if you read these words and disagree. However you take it is fine with me. I’m here to help and teach from what I have experienced, that’s it.

I’ll end with this…”The Big Picture”…Our one purpose as adults is to provide for the young. This happens in many different ways. PLEASE don’t ever let pride and greed blur your thoughts and cause you to miss out on the countless character development moments that happen on a daily basis. Lead by example, pour into THEM and help them prepare for LIFE.

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Primary & Secondary Leads

4402-BASEBALL-OESuch an important piece as our young ones are preparing for their baseball life on the big field and their High School career and hopefully beyond.

The more and more I see big field rules played on a small field (46/60 and 50/70), the more and more I am seeing this skill not being taught. It seems so many are so concerned with stealing 2nd and then 3rd within the first two pitches, that we aren’t teaching the game. When you play these teams, if you watch close enough, you will see how under developed most of these players are with these two skills when they don’t steal on a pitch.

It’s so bad that in many situations players are told to fake bunt on the first pitch every time so the runner can take second or third. We all know the odds of a successful steal are often above 90%. How about teach them how to execute a hit and run? Or how about we stop taking the bat out of the hitters hands in that great hitters count…0-0? How about we teach them to look for patterns in pitch selection on that first pitch and teach them what to do and when to do?

Yes, pitchers and catchers need to get better at holding runners, varying hold times, getting rid of the ball quicker behind the plate but these skills take so much longer to develop than learning how to steal on first move that we see these completely normal weaknesses being taken completely advantage of by coaches who care more about the score board than teaching and preparing. Teach them to be aggressive and when to be aggressive but understand development.

Many leave Little League style ball because they want to play by the regular rules and “Real” baseball. I understand that but if you want to play by the regular rules and play “Real” ball, then let’s teach them how to play real/realistic baseball like they will when they get to the big field.

They won’t be able to do this stuff when they get to HS. But what they will need to be good at is taking a good aggressive secondary, reading the ball out of the pitchers hand, anticipating the ball in the dirt and having that right foot coming down as the ball is crossing the hitting zone and learning how to read and what to look for in both pick off moves from right handed and left handed pitchers.

Coaches…Are you teaching this?

I don’t care if your opponent playing this style of so called “baseball”. This is about your approach. About you teaching your players the game. About you preparing them for what the real game is like. Why are we so concerned about winning and teaching habits that are just short term? Teach them the REAL game. A game that will give them some value as a HS player. Our job is preparing them for the next level and EVERY player on a small field should be preparing for the game on the big field.

Coach’em up coaches!!

Player Development 101

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Slump

2015-04-03 07.06.07Any player can fall into a slump at any given time. No matter how good they are, at some point, it will happen.

Self evaluation is key. Mental toughness is key. Perseverance is key. You need to be able to think about what it, physically and mentally, was like when things were going good. You need to be able to stay positive and visualize those great days. And you need to keep pushing. Trust the process as you can learn more from a slump than a 4 for 4 day or 7 shutout innings.

Slumps expose your weaknesses. Yes, you have weaknesses. The better you are at the things stated above, the shorter and shorter the slumps will last.

Remember this too. When a slump hits, it doesn’t mean you have to recreate your swing or delivery. Find some video. Find some pictures. Get back to what it was like when things were right. Easier said than done sometimes, but don’t get too technical. More often than not, you need a mental adjustment. You need to believe. You need more positive thoughts. You need a plan, even if that plan is to have a clear mind. The mind is a powerful thing. It can make you or it can break you.

Trust the process and learn everyday. Be Humble as those with a humble mentality seem to handle this type of adversity much better than those who think they have it all figured out.

Go get’em!!

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


The Swing vs. The Delivery

2015-03-18 09.55.47Both draw power from the lower half. Both need direction towards their target; Pitcher striding towards the catcher and the Hitter striding towards the Pitcher. Both use the hips to generate torque for the upper half to come through. Both need the upper half to stay closed as long as possible (until the stride foot hits the ground) for your upper half to come through with the most whip possible. They are both very similar to one another.

Use video analysis to see where their body position is at front foot contact. In the swing, nothing should start to the ball until their stride foot make contact with the ground, just as in the pitching delivery, the upper half should be in a closed, front arm up at shoulder height and ready to fire, position when their stride foot hits the ground.

Players starting with their upper half too soon is a very common problem in hitters and pitchers. When we do this, we are giving up power and using too much upper body too soon to throw or hit the ball. With a pitcher especially, this puts unnecessary stress on their arm.

Help your players learn to be in a powerful position when their stride foot hits the ground. If they start their upper half towards the plate, or ball, too soon, help them learn to keep it closed longer. Have a hitter stride, hold it for a second, to make sure they are in a strong position before they swing. Have a pitcher get to his stride and freeze at front foot contact to see where their upper body is and where we want it to be. This is a simple drill for them to feel that power position.

Hope some find this helpful as this is one of the most common mistakes I see young players making.

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Don’t Let The Game Speed Up On You

2015-04-16 11.11.33As a young player, I have no idea how many times this happened to me. I do know, though, that it was more than I would have liked. But to this day, all those moments have helped mold me into the parent and coach that I strive to be today.

I was working with one of my college students the other day. His mound work started off good but as the session went on, he started to battle his command. When I have worked with a player for a period of time, and I have come to know them emotionally and see where their strengths and weaknesses are, I will give them a chance to to work through these moments on their own. The worst thing a coach can do is say something to a pitcher between every pitch. Trust me, been there, experienced that. No bueno!

As the miss fires kept coming, you could see him getting more and more frustrated. With that frustration came a lose of focus which, in a game situation, would lead to disaster. After about 10-15 in a row, I finally stepped in and helped him realize what was going on. Physically, mechanically, nothing was wrong. What was wrong was what he was allowing to happen between his ears. He was throwing pitches while still focusing on what happened with his last pitch. He was trying to force command instead of trusting in his ability and letting his natural talent take over. It had had “Sped Up On Him”.

When this happens, we lose all rational thought. We are letting the situation control us instead of us controlling the situation. We swing at pitches out of the zone because we have no plan. We make poor pitch choices because we have become emotional. We make mistakes that we should know better than to do.

This happens often on the other side too. Us coaches in the dugout are just as prone to this as the players on the field are. My first year coaching, this reality slapped me in the face one night. Our pitcher was out there struggling. Things just weren’t going his way and I, as the coach, was in charge of keeping the pitch count. The longer the inning went on, the more mistakes I watched happen, the quicker I started to lose control of my job. We had an organizational rule that no pitcher was to throw more than 35 pitches in one inning. My boss happened to be in town, and in the dugout with me, when he came up and asked me what he was at (pitch count). When I looked down, he was at 30+ and we had no one up in the bullpen getting ready. Well, our pitcher ended up throwing too many and I got a good talking to after the game was over. Needless to say, lesson learned, it never happened again.

In the heat of the moment, on the field or in the dugout, staying mentally in control will allow you to make those rational decisions. The correct pitch selections, mound visits in the correct moments, making the last out at third, pitching changes, keeping track of pitch counts, etc.

Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and do your best to…

“Don’t Let The Game Speed Up On You”

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Emotions and Body Language

2014-06-12 15.28.26True competitors are often very emotional. They have the tendency to get very excited when great things happen and get very frustrated when things go against them. This is the nature of a competitor.

You watch any game in person or on TV, there is a good chance you will see both sides of this. I was brought up to never do something that will let your opponents know that they are getting the better of you or do anything that would rub your success in their face. These traits, I believe, are a huge reason why I feel I was able to play for as long as I did with very average stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a learning curve. I had plenty of games, early in my career, where I let my emotions get the best of me, but I did get a grip on it. Through trail and error, it got to the point where I had coaches who would ask if I was happy with my performance or if I was disappointed. Of course I was happy when I did my part and the team won, that was my job, and of course I was disappointed when the team lost, but I would never let my emotions waiver. This is what I learned about myself and what would allow me to stay in the right place, mentally, to go out and perform outing after outing. Never get too high and never get too low. Stay even keel through success AND failure.

When you do see a player who has poor body language, you are seeing a player who is most likely one of the mentally weaker ones on the field. If they can’t control their appearance, in my experience, they will have a hard time controlling their emotions when they are on the mound or in the box in a big situation.

The player who is great at controlling their body language, in success and failure, is the player who is mentally stronger and will win the battle of longevity in the end.

Here are some examples of poor body language to look out for…
-Throwing their hands up in the air, or throwing their head back, after they think the umpire missed a call.
-Yelling at their teammates, while on the field, when they make a mistake.
-Striking out and slamming their bat, or helmet, on the ground.
-Yelling out curse words when they get to the dugout.

This goes for us coaches too. Remember, we are our Dudes role models. How we handle success, and adversity, is an example to them. We are telling them how we think it’s okay to act. With that in mind, keep yourself in check at all times.

Poor body language is a direct reflect of ones mental toughness. Learn how to control your emotions boys!

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Giving Signs From Second Base

2015-03-13 23.21.25-1
With the season in full swing, we have many from across the country contact us seeking advise, looking for our opinion on how to handle special situations and just wanting to share stories with us.

We talk about playing this game the right way. We talk about development. We talk about respecting the game and your opponents.

Here is a topic that has come up a few times so I want to speak on it for a few minutes. This is one of those un-written rules in Baseball. It’s unacceptable, but often done. If, and when, a team gets caught doing this by the other team, it often doesn’t end well, especially in the adult version of this game. It’s usually something planed out by the players (though I have heard of coaches teaching the players how to do this…classless). A runner gets to second base and is there long enough that he is able to unlock the code of signs the catcher is giving to the pitcher. It’s often something very simple like, “The second sign”, “The first sign after 2”, “The last sign” or “Outs +1”.

Some tips on what to look for in a runner on second who is giving signs…

-Verbal cues (probably only with the young age groups).
-Different shuffles in their lead after seeing the signs.
-Starting with hands on upper leg, then dropping one or the other after seeing the signs.
-Looking left or right after seeing the signs.
-Stepping forward or backward after seeing the signs.
-Standing straight up or squatting lower in their lead after seeing the signs.

Like I said, this is often done but is what we call “Bush League” and most pitchers and catchers will take this personal when they see this happening.

If your hitters can’t read the ball out of the pitchers hand, then try teaching them what to look for in a pitchers delivery that may show what he plans on throwing. If you really study a pitcher, most will tell you, with their body movements, what they are throwing on almost every pitch. If you are teaching your players how to “Give Signs From Second Base”, you are NOT developing. You are NOT respecting the game. You are NOT respecting your opponent.

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Adjustments

image_1362869737680384Every player is unique. Each batter has a different swing. Each pitcher has a different delivery. As players get older, hopefully they are being helped to learn what makes them the best they can be.

Hitters are learning what the best place is for their hands to be when the pitcher is about to release the ball. When do they need to get their front foot on the ground to insure they will be in the best position possible when the pitch gets into the contact area. The biggest issue you see with hitters, especially youth, is their lack of being taught what it means to be “on time” when the pitch gets to them.

Pitchers need to know what makes them tick too. What they need to feel pitch after pitch. Where they need to feel smooth. Where does the separation of their hands need to happen. What is their best arm stroke in the back.

All this comes with rep after rep. Learning what works best for you/them. Hopefully at some point in a players life, they end up in front of someone who understands this and can help the player to understand themselves and what makes them the best possible player they can be.

By knowing yourself and your swing or delivery will allow you to make quicker in game adjustments. If you take a bad swing, you need to be able to make an adjustment on the next one. If you throw a pitch up and arm side, you need to know yourself so well that you can fix it on the next pitch.

The ability to make quick adjustments is a huge part of this game. It is in fact one of the biggest things we work on at the pro level.

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Controlling The Adrenaline

20130707-125550.jpgIf you are fortunate enough to play this game for a long time, you will have many firsts. The first time you walk into a clubhouse. The first time you meet your teammates. The first time you take a swing in the cage. The first time you throw a pitch off the mound in a bullpen. These are all firsts that will get the butterfly’s going a little.

What really gets the nerves is that first at bat or that first inning of the season. Like I said, hopefully you get to experience a lot of these. The question is, how do you handle these moments? I personally got to experience many and yes the nerves are always there. There was even some nerves pitching in an alumni game that meant nothing!!

The level I am coaching at this year is where a lot of newly drafted players go to get their first taste of pro ball. All of these young men will experience nerves, and pressure, like they have never experienced before. Some thrive in these situations and some allow the nerves to take over and take them off their game. The ability to slow things down at times like this is a learned ability. Experience is the only way to learn how to “Control The Adrenaline” in these moments.

I have written before on “The Weeding Out Process” and this is another layer. I have seen some players who have this elevated level of adrenaline outing after outing and at bat after at bat. They can’t seem to get a grip on how to handle it and end up never reaching their full potential in the game.

Learn how to handle your nerves/adrenaline in this game and watch yourself thrive.

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Soft Toss

Tee Work

Hitting The Other Way

flickr-2791835036-hdEvery big league hitter starts their day in the cage by hitting the ball the other way. One, this helps us stay back on the ball and keep our weight where we need it to be. Two, this is a skill that every good hitter needs to have. At some point, you will get up to bat and it will be your job to move the runner over by hitting the ball the other way. When you are on the tee, set it up deeper in your stance and work on staying inside the ball and driving it the other way. When doing soft toss, or front toss, have your thrower toss them away so you can get comfortable with this. Finally, the beginning of your first round of batting practice should be focused on hitting it the other way. Like I said earlier, every good hitter can do this on command, can you?

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.


Stay Calm

IMG_0051Once we step in the box, we are ready to hit. Look fastball and adjust to the off speed pitches. If we step in the box and are committed to an off speed pitch, the chances of us catching up to the fastball are very slim. Many times a hitters mind will get going way too fast, with too many thoughts and guesses, and step in the box not focused on what they need to be focused on. This will never equal a good result. Have a plan before you even get to the plate for the first pitch. You will more than likely need to make adjustments during the at bat, but never step in the box until your mind is calm and ready!

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.