Well, another year is almost in the books for this hitting passion of mine. It has been a great year! I learned a lot, got to meet and talk hitting with many new people, joined a new facility, and much more. So I thought I would spend a couple minutes on some of the things that have had particularly large impact on me as a hitting coach.
- Joining The Hit Lab. This year I joined forces with Darren Nicholson and starting hitting at The Hit Lab. Darren is a great guy who is very passionate about helping athletes reach the next level – whatever that may be. The facility is starting to round into shape with some renovations including new equipment and a video system. There are some much bigger things brewing for 2016, so stay tuned.
- PRI Integration for baseball. I received my first taste of PRI concepts at the Elite Baseball Mentorship at Cressey Sports Performance last year and was so intrigued I decided to go straight to the source. The course was fantastic, and I’m still going through the awesome course materials daily. I’m slowly starting to roll some of the concepts into working with hitters, and have already seen some benefit. I’m excited to implement more in the future. Really neat stuff.
- Hacking the Kinetic Chain. I got a copy of Driveline Baseball’s flagship product late this summer and have probably read it 4 or 5 times since then. Tremendous resource. Interestingly enough, two of my biggest influences from the last couple years have come from the pitching community (last year at CSP with Matt Blake, Eric Schoenberg, and Eric Cressey). Boddy spends a lot time teaching HOW to implement concepts with athletes - which is really the name of the game. Any nerd with a keyboard can say MLB All-Stars have elite swings (talking about myself here). It is a whole different problem trying to fix swing faults in skinny high schoolers. I have started trying to map some of their techniques to the hitting world. Some of it has worked, some of it not-so-much. Regardless, it is a great resource.
- Emphasis on individualization. This goes back to the seminar I attended at Cressey Sports Performance in 2014. It really struck a chord with me how each athlete who trains there has an individualized plan based on their needs. It got me thinking about the need for something similar in hitting instruction as opposed to “Here are 5 drills for today. Let’s knock `em out and do it again next week.” I think a trap us “new-age gurus” can fall in is getting stuck on a favorite or particular swing model or idea and try to put everyone in that mold. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you really look at it with unbiased eyes, you will see some pretty stark differences even in something as fundamental as the swing plane among high level hitters. They have optimized their swings for their movement profile (and vice versa). I think we should strive to do a similar thing for hitters trying to improve. This certainly doesn’t make a hitting coach’s job easier (especially in group settings, my word), but a certain point I feel it needs to be done to help hitters reach their potential.
- Meeting new coaches and players. I'm always down to talk hitting anytime, any place. Via the trusty #hittingtwitter, I was able to connect with tons of new coaches and players to swap ideas and hear what does and doesn’t work. I always ask a new hitter where they heard about me, and more and more often the answer is Twitter. It took me a while to come around to this social media game, but if it helps me become a better coach and connect with hitters and coaches, well then I guess I will have to keep checking my phone every minute for more Twitter notifications. Haha.