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Chad was a 12th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. He also coached H.S. baseball for 5 years. With the advent of new technology began to take hold of baseball he started questioning a lot of what players do and what they are taught. Today he offers various player development options from his facility in Virginia, as well as remote baseball and softball training as well as a suite of products he has brought to market including the Spinner. Be sure to check out his LPD+ community and his podcast.
In today’s show Bryan and Chad talk about:
- What are people getting wrong when posting swing videos on social media?
- What matters more, Max power or Max accuracy?
- Is there an ideal swing that can be taught?
- How to identify a “hitting” coach over a “swing coach.”
- What did the old timers and kids in Latin America have in common in their development?
You can find Chad on Twitter and Instagram.
Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/playballkid/message
Hi everybody. It is Bryan Eisenberg. I am here with Chad Longworth who describes himself as a curiosity junkie. And it’s definitely true. I’ve, seen it. And I’m a coach and a player development expert. You, work with both hitters and, pitching softball, baseball. You’re also the developer of a.
My son Sandy’s favorite warmup tool, the spinner you might’ve famously seen him spinning two at once and then some of Chad’s dead. So we’re a big fan of that. But today I want to talk about hitting because there’s a couple of things that are are real issues for parents. And, I want to start from the let’s, start from the back end forward, and then we’ll address how we deal with this.
Let’s start it from the recruiting point. So lots of kids out there putting up videos of them taking either tee swings or there’s some front toss and you watch them and the front doors and they’re, just spinning out to get their max exit Vilo. And you and I both love HitTrax.
There’s some benefits to it. What are people playing the wrong game? And is that why they’re not getting the attention of coaches? So yeah, that’s a bit done pack and this isn’t that big about a lot is with parents, like educating parents on what is the main question that, that we should ask and I think it gets presented to them and, packaged to them in a way that you’re not answering the main question, which is, can you.
In the game, like the actual game, when the ball is flying at you the pitch may be you’re looking for a fast ball and you may get a curve ball and you may swing at it. Do you have the physical tools, the physical traits to compete when it matters the most? I love it tracks. It’s a great tool.
I love. But swing speed sensors. I’ve got hacked motion. I have 40 motion. The cave Bez, all this is great information gathering stuff, but you got to answer the right question, which is, can I hit when the game starts? That’s, my entire existence as a hitting person, is it matters in the game.
So when we practice, we need to try to get to what the game presents as quickly as possible. And work from there not, we have to develop this idealized style or set of mechanics that someone else’s deemed optimal for me. They don’t know me. They don’t know my strength. They don’t know my mobility. They don’t know my visual skills.
Me personally. It looked back and genetically genetic certainly plays role, but my grandfather was a blue angel fire pilot, like one of the best fighter pilots in the world at the time he lived. And so I got to believe like genetically, I’m more. Pre predisposed to tracking objects and the things that hitters do, which probably aided me really well in my journey as a player.
I think today I’m much closer to where I was as a player. People try to coach like they were a player and just developing. Skills tools, the the motor skills tools and just attacking the problem as it is, which is what’s, this gonna look like in a game? I don’t know how in-depth you want to go with that?
That’s really, the central question is has this get me to. The game presents w we’ll unpack it more, but I think that’s the point you’re trying to say is like, when a coach is looking at people going to these showcases and taking that back off of, off the tee for max exit below that swing, they know does not play in the game.
Don’t you and I will both agree. Max power max to. Great. Great. We want that, but that’s not the game swing. In fact I know I’ve read that most hitters will talk about swinging at about 70% effort level, because yeah. Finding a different level that’s that, allows for accuracy typically a hundred percent plus doesn’t lend itself to being the most accurate back to ball skills.
That you can have, but you’re right. Yeah. That’s true. So is there an ideal swing? Because I think a lot of parents spend a lot of money as an industry going to hitting lessons and stuff like that, where the majority of the time is spent on mechanical work. Is there such a thing as an ideal.
Here’s the thing. I was talking to one of my friends actually about this last night. As the industry, as parents, as people that are all mechanics first approaches are flawed because you don’t attack the problem by a predetermined set of mechanics anyway, because we don’t know what the problem is present. And so I like on the internet, how all these different people attack each other with their own mechanics first philosophies. It’s oh, you guys are the same. This is the same thing. You were the same person. You just think your mechanics first philosophy, you may be better than this mechanics, first philosophy.
And we are attacking the central problem, which is the ball is going to be flying at you. And you have to find a way to arrive on time, arrive with speed. And try to be give or take within the downward flight to the ball as early, as possible, as long as possible. So is there an idealized perfect way to do that?
Yes, for every individual there is, but I don’t know what that’s going to take for them. In a central, in a. In attacking the problem, the fundamental understanding of practice design is each individual has their own optimal way to self-organize or self-organized Caleb. And he says that in my podcast was civil organizations happening as a coach, whether you believe it or not, whether you recognize it or not, self-organization will always be happy.
And so designing tasks, challenges, and. Environmental constraints. I know people that listen to this, we don’t need to go real in-depth into the origins of that, but the ecological dynamics and the constraint led approach aspect allows for the hitter and whoever they’re seeing because if I go to this idealized style coach by leaving Austin, and there’s this guy in Austin, who’s got the swing.
Perfect. But what if I don’t live in Austin? What if I live? Am I, can I not? Am I not, going to be a good hitter? And so understanding that look like you have an optimal swing for you. You have an optimal feel. You have an optimal, but it’s gotta have speed. It’s gotta be on time. And it’s got to try to swing plane is it’s pitch to pitch thing.
So if you look at the, you take the whole snapshot of what a swing plane is or what ball angles are. They fit within a window you’re you’re, notorious for building leverage if I’m in a window over time that I’ve just got enough bandwidth to create positives, that ball outcomes hard hits that goes with speed too.
I’m not going to hit Sarah the barrel every time, no matter which guru you’re just not going to do it because they’re lots of skills that go into hitting a moving pitch. It’s speed, which might be a curve ball or a two O change up. God forbid, they should outlaw, as we’re changing the rules of baseball, we are banging those things.
If we’re going to move the mail back and all these other things, you just ban to change it for three, one change. Quit that, throw a heater here. Yeah. It’s about building out this. Traits and tools over time that we’re going to allow you the most bandwidth and opportunities to maximize bad of all outcomes across contact qualities of any kind you say you, brought up swinging at 76.
If I train at 70%, 70% comes a hundred percent. And so we have to train at times become Maximo’s right. And so it’s like why the swing speed sticks are such an important tool for us because how often do hitters take a thing in their hands and swing it to a point where I’m about to fall down. So we just don’t even hit balls that way we just swing that way.
It’s a lot like driving, right? Like I can rev up the engine to the max. It’s a bit available to open it up. And I want to do that as an app. Does it mean, depending on what part of the road I’m on today, here in Austin, where I’ve got ice everywhere. I got to throttle it back a little bit, just to make sure I can be on plane depending on the problem.
I’m trying to solve really important to like dot, to be able to dial it back. But you can’t practice doc. You can’t practice dialing it back munch. You always have to operate in practice. At a intention level in a, with a purpose that’s higher than maybe what you operate in a game because you can’t operate in a 70%, comes a hundred percent and that’s not gonna help you build out bandwidth and leverage to have positive basketball outcomes on a variety of pitch conditions.
It’s, just so it’s, so there’s so many variables from pitch to pitch from game to game. Whatever month to month it’s. So there can’t be one way there just can’t be because you’re if you believe that it you’re just not attacking the problem for what it is. So let me ask you this and we may get, flamed for this one.
Okay. But if we look at. Like the Dominican’s and I’ve got a friend who’s who’s training and posting his videos with his kids up in one of the smallest little cities in, the Dominican Republic he’s got a group of kids he works with, and you look at some of the best hitters out there today, and then you go back and you look at some of the old timers who were significantly better.
Hitters not, better power hitters, but significantly better hitters. We have definitely better batting average for most and all that. I think I, I see a couple of commonalities among there and what the traditional like kid today in high school is doing to develop their skills. So when I look at like older hitters and I look at the Dominican’s.
It’s not just about the hour, multiple times a week in a cage with bagels. They’ll do . They’ll go ahead. And they’ll swing at bottle caps wiffle balls, they’ll swing Broughton, baseballs and softballs and socks. And they’ll swing a little peas and Lima beans. They’re constantly attacking different things with broomsticks, with Baton, with baseball that with older kids, baseball bats it’s, completely irrelevant.
What they’re sling with when I was growing up. We had kids playing in the street all the time. There was always a wiffle ball game. There was always a stick ball game. We were always problem-solving for hitting in one way or another in varying ways. And so we, talked earlier about how great the brain is at, this vision thing in calculating these things.
Do you think there’s a correlation between the way that a lot of these Dominicans are training them? And the way we old timers used to train and get their reps versus the fact that the kids today in the typical high schooler is maybe getting an hour a week in the cage maybe share.
And that’s the only hitting that he’s probably trying to solve, right? No, I think you’re, I think you’re a hundred percent, I think that, I think the biggest thing that we Rob youth players of today is. The just the unfiltered organic, like self they, or you organize the game in the street and it do that, this, the discovery of the game.
We don’t kids today. They never get. Opportunities. I won’t say never, but it’s very few and far between much less than it has been in years past where, they discover the game without a coach, without an adult, without somebody who instructed them there and what to do or how to do it or, whatever this is an all sports.
This is how, we’ve it’s what we do in America. We turned it into a business and it’s filled with people, gatekeepers of, knowledge or whatever. We’re in the Dominican. I think there’s been a lot of drill middle years playing organically with each other they, they’re trying to have fun and problem solve and do all these things.
And, so I think that’s,
I think that’s a big difference in the Dominican and to your point of practice habits. I think that one of the most important things that baseball presents because it’s such, especially hitting, throwing too, but it’s such a hard. People say it’s the hardest thing to do in all sports yet they practice design in such a elementary and easy way.
It’s that’s not flips and tees are not going to do it?
The hardest skill is board, but this is how we’re going to attack it. That’s not my point. My point is if you’re going to attack such a hard skill, the number one habit that you can learn in that skill. Plus, that’s going to be important to you in the rest of your life is just the daily habit of trying to attack the problem.
Not one hour a week. Not you would be better off to do it’s like brushing your teeth. I use this analogy a lot. You can brush your teeth one hour. You can go all week, not brush your teeth. And then Sunday you brush your teeth for an hour, or you can like brush your teeth for five or 10 minutes every day.
And that’s going to pay off much more than just waiting til Sunday and brushing your teeth for an hour. And it’s I would much rather you do something that is representative of something that is going to help you in the game, every day.. And it doesn’t have to be an hour. This is something I’m trying to establish with my own children. Which is let’s try to present them with tools and technology and all these things. Let’s just try to attack something every day, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. No, I don’t structure it, I try to give my kids a framework and then just allow them to organize themselves within here’s the things I’d like for you to do today.
Just go do them. It’s well, as you think you can. And I try to stay out of the way but I want them not only to put the time into it because the skill is really hard, but to establish the habit of, if you’re going to accomplish something, especially hard thing. It’s just going to take the day to day to day to day, time over time so that it that it compounds, it just keeps compounding and building on it.
No five minutes or saving $5 a month. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but like you extrapolate that over five years, it’s yes, I need a bunch of freaking money, a hundred percent. So I want to end with, one question to really help parents. And I think it’s, a, it’s a. It’s a two-part question.
Obviously we’ve got parents like people living in big cities, like Austin, stuff like that, where a lot of facilities and hitting coaches and facilities. So one, what can they do to make sure that if they’re paying for a lesson, they are getting what their kid needs out of it.
But part two, for those people who are a little bit more remote, I know like you’re you’re not in the most populous city in the country. What are some of the things that they can do also in between those lessons to make sure they really are becoming good hitters. Obviously I think in whatever facility, having a fundamental understanding of bat speed is super important.
You can always, it doesn’t matter if that, if the coach that you’re going to see is measuring bat speed or not, you can put a bat, you can put a swing sensor on your kid’s bat. And I think people, the mistake that people make with sensors and technology in general is just think it’s the answer for her.
And it’s not necessarily answer for today. It’s the answer that you’ll see play out over time, and if you were seeing somebody and again, it’s hard to, it’s hard to set a standard of what kind of improvement should I see in my bat speed, but I know somewhat of what we see in the normal amount of time.
And so if I didn’t see an increase in bat speed, Like the most fundamental, good metric that you can have in young players. If I didn’t see a fundamental improvement in bat speed, I’d probably be out of there because again, what problem are we attacking? We can’t, we’re solving at the younger levels versus once we’re starting to get to the high school ages.
And so even again the amount of high schoolers that I see. Are on a level of bat speed that they should be on is not a ton. And so making bat speed a priority. So I think every instructor should be attacking it as a first principle. Like we got improve your bat speed, but the higher, the bat speed, the more damage you could potentially deliver power, right?
The longer you can wait to see the pitch deeper in the zone. Barry bonds bats, but they didn’t get worse for whatever he did in those years. He didn’t he had played discipline already, but then it gives him more time to, to execute a swing because he’s this strong as a horse he was swinging it.
He was laying off pitches that normal human beings would lay off, but that’s bad speed, visual skills and swing decisions and will all these other things. But like when you have more bad speed and you’re swinging, takes less. It gives you more time to see the pitch. There’s a lot of advantages to having plus the Headspace.
Yup. So that’s number one, number two. You just said and I’ve heard what you’re doing with your daughter as well, right? It’s the St. Peter’s. Yeah, it’s just, is it attacking the central problem enough? The central problem of the pitches moving? I need to try to time the arrival of it in different ways. It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I I say all the time, there are parents that probably can’t throw BP, but there’s value in bad BP there’s value in kind of being inconsistent with the look that you give them because they have to, do. Timing mechanisms. They have to develop delays. They have to develop variability because you’re not very good at throwing BP.
You throw in some note, take rounds in there where you’re going be all over the place. And they’re going to have to try to find the barrel flag. There’re Vladimir Guerrero, senior style. We call them flagged ramps. We go, no take rounds. It’s flat rounds. Like you got to hit it.
If it bounces, you got to hit it. If it’s above your head, but that’s not optimal for a game. But again, It’s if we don’t practice these things, then you got to take that. You gotta take that hot zone that you see on ESPN. And we’re trying to make that hot zone as big as possible if it goes outside the strike zone even better.
Because again, it just gives you more bandwidth and more laborers to get knocks attacking the central problem would be number two, moving ball. Last tip obviously you’re, training your own kids and you’ve got a daughter and a son different ages and you’re trying to help them improve their hitting.
Obviously they’re doing something things at your facility, but what are two or three things that every parent could do right now that could help their kid, even if they didn’t have a facility to become better hitters Throw your tea away. Number one, throw it away because I think I don’t, I think we talked about this before we got on here, but like back in the day, now you brought it up earlier, back in the day you threw the ball up your yourself.
And that’s something that we do with our young players. It’s get in there after. Get in front of the swing speed, radar and swing fast and see how fast I can swing. Are you setting PRS and your swing speed. You’ve not jumped in there, throw the ball up to yourself a few times. Throw the ball.
Self-talk self-talk we never had any players when I was growing up and there was no kitchen pitch. It was self cost and defects. Yep. Throw the ball up and hit it. Again, if you want to see something that’s bad, take a kid in 20, 22 until the throw the ball up to the. Because it requires, again, it requires some precision because the ball is moving.
It requires timing because they’re not real good at throwing it up in the same spot. And so they have to vary their timing and if they get good at it, you can add in additional you can add in additional constraints of throwing up, throwing the tennis ball up and letting it bounce before you swing at our future generation will not be able to do.
No, for sure. Second thing, gosh, throw your tea away. Second thing is, would be I’m going to go tech from my choice tech yeah. Having some, yeah. Having some sort of measurable feedback like, objective, like this is what it is. And again, there’s all sorts answers, no matter what you pick, there’s a lot of metrics in there that you can get lost on their importance but, just think of it again, just think of it as this is how we’re going to gather information over time just throw it on there today.
Much like what we do with a pulse sensor on your elbow or HitTrax. We’re just gathering information over. Gather as much information as possible. So you can make as informed decisions as possible. It doesn’t make them, it doesn’t make them mean they’re going to be the right decisions, but it means that we have as much objective information as we can.
No we’re, trying to gather in the gym. We’re trying to do that with throwing readiness. We’re trying to do that with, we’re trying to do that with training pinners in creating different tasks, challenges based upon information. It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing that we’re doing. It just means that this is the way we’re going to attack the information we have.
It’s just information gathering. I think that of all the things that it’s easier to manage, when you have information to come up with a hypothesis, if you have information, correct but don’t sell out for the wrong things either. The last one I’d end with, and I know you’ve done it for your daughter.
I did it for Sandy as well. Wasn’t seeing a lot of pitches get that wind reality. Yup. A hundred percent. The wind reality was a big thing for us in transitioning because softball where we live, there’s not a lot of people. So getting her live at bats was going to be tough, especially with the amount of why that, that she needed to just calibrate to a pitching motion.
Talking about swing readiness, every pitch, talking about swing decisions, every bitch, identifying balls and strikes. It was a huge, thing for us. Is it a great, is it a perfect tool now? Is it a great tool for everyone? No, but for a young developing player that just needs to see time pitches that needs to work on their swing readiness.
You can talk about being ready to swing every pitch, but you’re just talking about it. They’re not executing it and they’re not I see coaches, my, my kids play for coaches and I hear them talk to them. And in my mind, I’m thinking that makes sense to you in our life, but they’re not small versions of uni.
They are kids. They don’t have cognitive, they don’t have problem solving skills. They don’t have emotional intelligence. They don’t have. They don’t have these skills. So it’s better if you can just stay out of their way and create as many things for discovery as possible. And when reality is a perfect tool for that, because you can talk about timing or you talk about swinging decisions, but I can tell you can get into.
And see it. It’s just not gonna make much sense to them. That’s how we executed when reality perfect tool, when reality is amazing. If people want to see more like what you’re doing with your kids and some of the other stuff that you’re doing where can they track you down? I try to put out what we’re doing.
Videos on Twitter, Instagram. Tik TOK some I get roasted. I’m actually going to make a video on YouTube, maybe of reading tic dot comments on my videos because they are phenomenal. They are funny as all good out. But Twitter and Instagram, most people are there. See long baseball on Twitter and Instagram.
I I think everybody in the world’s on Facebook, it’s just hard to get to somebody on Facebook cause they don’t show it a lot. So unless you’re on top of it, she does fit maybe in the daily like algorithms for, lack of a better term. But yeah, you can find, just look my name up, you can look back.
He was like, how about assigned you? If you just look my name up everywhere Podcasts, Spotify, apple, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, daily energy drinks, fun, whatever just try to be open and available, Ted. Thank you so much for your time today. I know our community is going to love this.