Squish the bug! Elbows up! Just make contact! Stay on top of the ball!
If I asked 100 people to describe the word “car”, they would likely give a wide range of answers to what they thought of in describing a car. Did you think of a sports car? Family vehicle? The latest Tesla? What if I asked you to describe the color “red”? Do you see Coca Cola red? Fire engine red? Or are you color blind. Words and cues are extremely powerful. But as we can see people can attach different shades of meaning to the exact same words.
Pitching coach Lantz Wheeler from the BaseballThinkTank teaches us that the best cues are the ones you give yourself. Learn to be your own best coach.
Let me give you an example. In a previous post, we shared how Josh Donaldson describes his swing and tries to lift the ball. At about the same time that was released, Mike Trout talked about his process.
He clearly says his focus is staying on top & up the middle while he is working off the tee. That is what he likes to feel. That is ONE of his cues. Several coaches online commented how he talks about hitting on top of the ball while Donaldson is thinking about getting square with the ball and lifting it.
However, we are not seeing the full context of this conversation. As Trevor Stocking, Product Manager at Zepp, has explained to me “having worked with Mike, when you have time to break things down, he also talks about what Donaldson talks about. This is one tee drill in a routine that builds his confidence for believing he will be successful that day. However, you can see in this Zepp Swing analysis to the right that his swing is at a positive 18 degree attack angle, not a negative angle or down to the ball swing.
As a coach/parent, our goal should be to find what routine, thought, feeling, result gives that player their own confidence to succeed that day. If you spend time with an MLB hitting coach you will see that the best speak differently to every single player and help them prepare differently based on their own personal cues.
Let’s watch some slow motion video of his swing (that was filmed at 10,000 frames per second so that it is really clear) during an actual game and see what is actually happening in his swing.As you can see there is a real difference between feel than actual swing.
When you watch this swing, what are you seeing on top of ball? What do you think Mike is trying to tell himself to do?
Watch what coaching cues you use. Let’s keep our eye on the ball!