Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Improve Your Bat Speed in a Single Exercise!

By Brandon Richey

If you are a baseball player looking to increase your bat speed then you have got to have a smart strength and conditioning program in order to do so. Without the implementation of certain movements that stimulate your core and promote the rotational movement of your trunk and hips you cannot get better at hitting the baseball. This is why I have included a single exercise in this article to help you develop faster bat speed.

The Kettlebell High Load Windmill

The kettlebell high load windmill is an exceptional exercise to help promote the strength and mobility of your trunk and midsection. This lift is great at strengthening the muscles of your core while promoting the flexibility and mobility of your hips and shoulders. In order to execute this lift you need the availability of a single bell. Place the bell between your feet and lift the bell to your chest by properly performing the clean and rack. Once you have the bell racked simply press and lock it out above your head. Next, turn your feet out at about a 45 degree angle away from the arm that is lifting the bell above your head. Look up at the bell and place the free arm around behind your back. Keep the leg on the loaded side of your body straight and lean to the side of the arm not lifting the kettlebell. As you descend down keep your head looking up towards the kettlebell above your head. Make sure to contract your lat and keep your shoulder sucked into the socket as you descend down into the bottom of the windmill for a good stretch. Once you go down far enough to get a good stretch then simply ascend back up in the same pattern as you went down in order to complete the movement. This is a great lift for your baseball bat speed and is top notch for getting you ready for the upcoming baseball season.

If you haven't already started to implement kettlebell windmills into your training then you are missing out. This is one of the best overall lifts for your strength, mobility, and flexibility. Take the time to learn more by accessing the rest of my articles on the subject for free. Remember that most any athlete can train hard, but only the champions train smart my friend. Stop wasting time and get started today!

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I'm Brandon Richey the Strength and Conditioning Pro!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Create Consistent Hitting Mechanics

By Nate Barnett

I'm sure you know from experience that hitting a baseball consistently for any length of time is one of the most difficult and frustrating things to do in sports. There are two areas of your overall baseball preparation you'll need to develop on a regular basis if you want the most consistency possible as a competitive athlete - the mental game of baseball, and proper hitting mechanics. If you're interesting in learning more about baseball psychology there are quite a few resources online as well as my blog. This article is reserved for teaching a little on the topic of hitting mechanics.

I get the chance to work with dozens and dozens of athletes individually each year. It's truly a rewarding experience much of the time, though at times it can be extremely frustrating to see such talented athletes fail to put in the necessary work to achieve some consistency in their swing. I never have a tough time getting the athletes to work hard when I work with them in the cage. It's when athletes have to motivate themselves to work outside of their practice days when their work habit breaks down.

In order to become a highly consistent and effective hitter, I prescribe the following "medicinal procedure" to be used away from practice:

1. Dry Drills: These are hitting mechanics related drills that are meant to reinforce muscle memory. It is impossible to only put in two to three days on a specific hitting technique and make it stick long-term. The problem you'll run into is that during a game your focus will be placed on the pitcher and not your mechanics. If you have failed to put in the necessary time to build quality muscle memory, you'll revert back to the problems you were initially trying to fix.

2. Mental Rehearsal: The mind is a powerful tool for good or evil. When you use your mind for positive imagery or visualization you will increase your effectiveness as a hitter. If your mind pollutes your body with thoughts of failure, your body will respond in a negative way. Lack of confidence and fear can destroy a good hitter. To make sure you are conditioning your brain in the right way, it's highly important that you replay mental video clips of yourself succeeding offensively. This is easy to do, many of you do it all day long in other areas. Sometimes your mind wanders in church or school and you lose focus as to what is occurring around you. If you can slip into this mode and daydream about your performances, you can truly become a master of the mental game of baseball.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball. His website is devoted to teaching the mental game of baseball and hitting mechanics. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are Hitting Mechanics Your Only Ticket to Success? What You Might Be Missing

By Nate Barnett

The great Ted Williams once said, "A good hitter can hit a pitch that is over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a questionable ball in a tough spot." In his book, The Science of Hitting, he makes it clear that being a selective hitter made him the.344 lifetime hitter he was. When reading his book, this stood out to me as one of the more valuable and under taught principles in hitting instruction.

Williams spends a good amount of time demonstrating the technique he uses to develop a good understanding of plate zones. What's interesting is that getting a good pitch to hit is mentioned in his book prior to his breakdown of proper hitting mechanics. As a side note, be careful that you spend ample time on the mental game of baseball otherwise you may never fully get to enjoy your hard work you've spent on your mechanical development.

Being a selective hitter is an absolute must at all levels of baseball. Once pitchers observe that you aren't going to bite on a pitch that is out of the zone, a choice has to be made on their end. It's simple; either give you a good pitch to hit and see if you can do it, or pitch around you and throw to some other guy. It's a tough choice either way, and that's how you want it to be. The more thinking going on in the head of your opponent, the better chance he will screw up and give you a fat pitch to hit.

Here's how to learn this concept Williams teaches. I've modified his idea just a bit but the core is the same. I find it easier to break this down by individual points.

1. Grab six baseballs and line them up next to each other on the front of a plate. The six baseballs will cover the entire front end of the plate nearest the pitcher. (Williams uses seven baseballs, though I find that six is easier to fit on the plate and serves the same purpose.)

2. Name the balls numerically beginning with the baseball nearest you as a hitter. The nearest ball would then be the #1 ball, and the furthest ball on the outside corner would be the #6 ball.

3. During batting practice learn to identify what range of baseballs you handle the best. That is, what ball do you get excited to see thrown your way because you know you can tear the cover off it? Throughout my career I knew I could handle balls #2-#5 quite well and could expand that to add the #1 ball if need be.

4. When you have identified your range, #2-#5 balls or #3-#6 balls, or whatever, this range is where you will spend the majority of your time in batting practice. Many coaches choose to work on pitches that are toughest for you to hit. Resist this advice for the following reason. If you know that being selective will increase the likelihood that you will get at least two good pitches to hit in any given at bat on average, then developing your skills to absolutely crush those pitches is a must. If you can hit the balls hard you've chosen in your range 80% of the time, why swing at balls outside of your range that you can only hit hard 30% of the time? Now, please understand that I'm not advocating never practicing the weak areas in your hitting zone; I'm just not advising spending the majority of your time working on those spots.

5. Learn to use the count to your advantage by shrinking your zone. On counts of 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, the ONLY pitch you should be swinging at is one that fits your developing hitting zone. If you can train your eye to recognize the pitches that float through this zone on a regular basis, you're batting average and confidence will go through the roof. Remember, pitchers aren't good enough to identify your weakness and exploit it each time you're up to bat.

While I get a thrill teaching baseball hitting mechanics to my students, I absolutely enjoy teaching hitters to increase their odds at performing to the best of their ability by winning the mental game of baseball as well. While you only get about 10 minutes of time to use your hitting mechanics in a game, your brain is working the entire time you are on the field. Training it to work with your body instead of sabotaging it will be your ticket to some good fun and success in this great sport of baseball.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball. His website is devoted to teaching the mental game of baseball and hitting mechanics. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career.

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