John MacDougall posted:… Metal bats do so many thing to try and avoid "sting" that it is hard for a kid to get a "sense" of where they just made contact and have it filed in their learning memory.  …

 

Can you explain just how getting “a “sense” of where they just made contact” helps a hitter become better? Also, do non-wood bats not give any “sense” of the same thing, or is it that they don’t do it as well?

Consultant posted:

July 14, 1986, 30 years ago, Sports Illustrated set up this discussion.  This is a "classic" rap session of three great hitters. 

Every young hitter should read. I know the "bat burning" is true.

Bob

 

Hate to disagree with you Bob but I wouldn't let my sons read that article if they asked about it! By the way they won't because it was written 2 years before I got our of HS and sadly I am not that young anymore!!

They are the same tired arguments that really are personal based between Lau and the old school. The truth is hitting is athletic and it is probably the most over coached thing in all of sports. The truth is absolutely in the middle and they agree on about 80%...the rest doesn't matter if they do the 80% properly!

Old School;

Question: How do your boys make adjustments as hitters. Do they practice in front of a mirror? Do they use the "high tee" drill. Where do they stand in the batter's box?

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to talk hitting with Ted, Don Mattingly or Wade Boggs. I did have "one on one" interview with Willie Mays and Edgar Martinez and it was extremely informative.

Bob Williams

Stats4Gnats posted:

John MacDougall posted:… Metal bats do so many thing to try and avoid "sting" that it is hard for a kid to get a "sense" of where they just made contact and have it filed in their learning memory.  …

 

Can you explain just how getting “a “sense” of where they just made contact” helps a hitter become better? Also, do non-wood bats not give any “sense” of the same thing, or is it that they don’t do it as well?

Sure.  First, go here:  Performance Charts.  You'll see that the location of the highest level of performance (ball exit speed) is at the "sweet spot".  This is the point where you actually get NO feedback.  "I didn't even feel the ball and it went out".  The same thing happens in golf when you stop trying to muscle the ball :-).  As you move away from the sweet spot the performance drops off because the bat sucks out some of the bat/ball collision energy and this is felt to an increasing degree by the batter in the form of vibration.  The further from the sweet spot, the more vibration, the less exit speed.  The more flexible the bat, the more energy is robbed at a given distance from the sweet spot.  There is more consistency in wood bats in this feel because wood does not compress and give the way metal bats do.  Every method of construction in the different metal bats are going to give different feedback.  I can't say this is something I've measured, more that I know it intuitively.  Different woods (species) are going to feel different depending on their hardness/stiffness, but its more consistent from bat to bat in the same species.

I'm not going to make the argument that using wood from the age of 10 will definitively make you a better hitter, even though that is the conventional wisdom, if you will.  There are SO many variable that go into that equation that it would be impossible to prove.  Everyone is going to believe what they want anyway.  All I can do is share in insights and knowledge I've picked up along the way in developing my bat and spending countless hours studying the physics of bats and mechanical properties of wood species.  One thing you'll never catch me saying is that I'm an "expert".  That word always raises red flags for me. 

I'd rather make a case for things like tradition, sound, cost and fun.  I gave test bats for new youth line to a local coach/head of travel ball and little league.  He had his team try them out and they didn't want to put them down.  He said that had way more fun swinging wood.  It is, after all, what they see "big leaguers" swinging.  Maybe going back to wood is what would help bring participation rates back up.  It did for adult baseball all over the country.  Over the last 8-10 years adult baseball has been going back to wood and is now about 80% to 90% wood.  I've had guys tell me it is what saved their league.  The state of New Mexico switched to wood for high school 3 years ago.  There was a lot of skepticism at the time.  After the first year they polled all the coaches and asked if they wanted to stick with it.  A coach there told me it was almost unanimous to stay with wood.  Coaches were saying stuff like "it's a WAY better game".  Well, I gotta get to work!  Cheers.

Consultant posted:

Old School;

Question: How do your boys make adjustments as hitters. Do they practice in front of a mirror? Do they use the "high tee" drill. Where do they stand in the batter's box?

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to talk hitting with Ted, Don Mattingly or Wade Boggs. I did have "one on one" interview with Willie Mays and Edgar Martinez and it was extremely informative.

Bob Williams

Ted Williams and Edgar Martinez had extremely different approaches to hitting - but I would imagine they agreed on much. They may have defined things with different terminology and they may have thought about and discussed in different styles but they are similar. In the SI link you referenced Ted talks about not moving forward to weight transfer but if you watch slo motion of his swing he did move forward, it was not a huge move forward it was absolutely a forward movement. Martinez had a much more pronounced forward move...is that bad or good, they were both great hitters? Griffey Jr was closer to Martinez but his swing longer...

At the end of the day 80 percent or more is repeated by all of them.

As far as your direct questions IMO mirrors are fine if you like them, T work is next to godliness but I find high T work marginal and where a hitter stands in the box is a comfort thing for the player. I have an opinion and both my sons use that location but ultimately where in the box is about being comfortable.

How do they make adjustments, we have video of good and bad swings, video of swings during a hot streak and swings during a slump, they do T work 5 or 6 days week before ever taking BP. I am in the camp of muscle memory is more important then live BP...that and hit a fastball it makes the world a much simpler place!

 

Old School; Edgard swing left handed off the tee for muscle memory. Unfortunately we did not film our one hour discussion. We talked about his "inside out" swing with 2 strikes. Discuss "going deep" in the count.

Many right handed hitters stand in the same hole as the previous hitter and then they swing up, because their back foot is below the flat. Always have your sons "mound up" the back holes. The placement in the box is relative to the pitcher. If he Nolan Ryan then I go back as far as I can.

Watch Henry Aaron swing "he glides" into the pitch. When we played an exhibition game against "Willie Mays" All Stars. Aaron hit a ball "over' the light towers in El Paso Dudley Field. Like a golf tee shot.

Bob

John,

 

That was a lot of good reading, but I’m afraid it didn’t answer either of my questions, so I’ll ask them again.

 

Can you explain just how getting “a “sense” of where they just made contact” helps a hitter become better?

 

Also, do non-wood bats not give any “sense” of the same thing, or is it that they don’t do it as well?

Stats4Gnats posted:

John,

 

That was a lot of good reading, but I’m afraid it didn’t answer either of my questions, so I’ll ask them again.

 

Can you explain just how getting “a “sense” of where they just made contact” helps a hitter become better?

 

Also, do non-wood bats not give any “sense” of the same thing, or is it that they don’t do it as well?

Sorry, I thought it was sort of implicit.  A goal in hitting is to hit the ball on the sweet spot on the bat.  You get way more bang for your buck in doing so.  The ball comes off a lot harder and harder is better.  Becoming a better hitter is learning how to adjust your swing as the ball comes in to try and make contact as close to the SS as possible.  Just like a tennis player "knows" how to swing so contact is made in the center of his racquet.  The vibrational feedback, along with vision, is what helps  a player to know whether he accomplished this or not.  The part about non wood bats is in the other answer.  The BBCOR non wood bats aren't as bad as the old "steroid" bats (still in use in youth leagues)  The trampoline effect pretty much guaranteed they would not develop a feel for the sweet spot.  I've seen some really terrible swings with those bats that produce a ball that has no business going as far as it does!

Hope that clarifies.

Consultant posted:

 

Watch Henry Aaron swing "he glides" into the pitch. When we played an exhibition game against "Willie Mays" All Stars. Aaron hit a ball "over' the light towers in El Paso Dudley Field. Like a golf tee shot.

Bob

Bob I agree with you about Aaron. As a matter of fact if a young Hank Aaron was coming up today in baseball I believe his swing would look dramatically different then what it was.

As an industry baseball has realized there is money to be made in teaching and instruction. As an industry the individuals realized they needed something to differentiate themselves from the others. Hitting IMO essentially became a marketing plan. I don't mean to insinuate most coaches don't believe what they are selling or that it is bad, I do mean to insinuate that there is much more in common then people realize.

Hank Aaron and Ted Williams had very different approaches to hitting a baseball. But if you look at it closely they are still about 80% the same and 20% different. I have studied countless swing analysis videos from Lau, O'Leary, Epstein, Twek's and many others, I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows for much flexibility in schedule!! There are some differences but at the end of it they are more successful and sell more product if they convince people they are "right" and others are "wrong" The video I watch doesn't indicate that any of them are dramatically more right or wrong then another. I do have some preferences, as does everyone else, we may not agree on 100% but I can sit and watch a video of any reasonable good swing and compare more common points then differences.

John MacDougall posted:

Sorry, I thought it was sort of implicit.  A goal in hitting is to hit the ball on the sweet spot on the bat.  You get way more bang for your buck in doing so.  The ball comes off a lot harder and harder is better.  Becoming a better hitter is learning how to adjust your swing as the ball comes in to try and make contact as close to the SS as possible.  Just like a tennis player "knows" how to swing so contact is made in the center of his racquet.  The vibrational feedback, along with vision, is what helps  a player to know whether he accomplished this or not. 

 

So your answer is, the player learns to somehow during the swing, adjust it so it hits the ball closer to the sweet spot?

 

The part about non wood bats is in the other answer.  The BBCOR non wood bats aren't as bad as the old "steroid" bats (still in use in youth leagues)  The trampoline effect pretty much guaranteed they would not develop a feel for the sweet spot.  I've seen some really terrible swings with those bats that produce a ball that has no business going as far as it does!

 

So your answer is, BBCOR bats are better than non-wood non-BBCOR bats for learning to hit on the sweet spot, but still not as good as wood for doing that? If that’s what your answer is, expressed in a percentage, how much better would you say wood is? 50% better? 20% better?

 

Also, for the player still using non-wood in games, how does the new “skill” translate to the non-wood bat when the MOI is likely very different making the swing different as well?

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